21.12.06

SPEAKING OF CORVETTES. The first of a new series of littoral combat ships (longer than swift boats or patrol torpedo boats but not quite destroyer escorts), USS Freedom, is being built in Marinette and will be commissioned in Milwaukee.
Officials including Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and County Executive Scott Walker had been lobbying Winter to stage the commissioning off Veterans Park on Lake Michigan - while Chicagoans waged a campaign of their own. A consolation prize for Chicago: It's hoped the ship can pay a visit there before leaving for its home port of San Diego.
The designation of the ships is not the only thing that's changed in today's Navy.
At the commissioning, the vessel earns the designation as a United States Ship and becomes the USS Freedom. It's then part of the Navy's fleet, which now stands at 278 ships.
That's a somewhat smaller fleet than President Reagan's hoped-for fifteen carrier groups and 600 ships, let alone the 847 ships, many of them life-expired World War II destroyers and cruisers, in Richard Nixon's Navy. The kind of war we find ourselves in is one in which, like the Battle of the Atlantic, small ships will be more useful for keeping sea-lanes free of pirates and interdicting terrorist logistics than battleships and cruisers. (All the same, there's something about steaming the Iowas into the Persian Gulf and compelling President Ahmadinejad to sign terms on Missouri, National Command Authority demurrals notwithstanding.)

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