Littoral combat ship to be named USS Fort Lauderdale

The following is the text of a news release from the city of Fort Lauderdale:

(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) — Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has informed the city that the United States Navy will name a ship in honor of Fort Lauderdale. 

The USS Fort Lauderdale will be a littoral combat ship (LCS), part of the Navy’s new generation of small, fast, highly maneuverable, surface warships. Equipped with advanced core weapons systems, broad combat capability and the latest in hull design and propulsion systems, the LCS can carry out a variety of missions primarily in the littoral (coastal) waters, including mine warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and surface warfare. 

“Receiving this honor from the United States Navy represents one of the most prestigious accolades in the history of our city,” said Fort Lauderdale Mayor John P. “Jack” Seiler. “We offer our sincere thanks and appreciation to Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Congresswoman Lois Frankel, Congressman Alcee Hastings, and Congressman Ted Deutch for their tireless efforts in bringing this dream to fruition. We acknowledge the tremendous assistance and support provided by Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, and we express our gratitude to all former members of Congress who helped champion this significant undertaking, including the late E. Clay Shaw Jr.” 

The Navy’s historic announcement comes after years of planning and coordination by Chuck Black, a Fort Lauderdale business owner and veteran who served 20 years in the Navy. Black spearheaded the effort at the local level and he continues to lend his leadership as an active member of the national board of directors and immediate past South Florida area president of the Navy League of the U.S. 

“This is a dream come true for the city of Fort Lauderdale,” said Black. “The project will create an inseparable bond between the city and the Navy while leaving a legacy for generations to come as our service men and women defend our freedom and protect our shores aboard the USS Fort Lauderdale. As a Navy veteran who proudly served our country, I look forward to spearheading the commissioning ceremony in the years ahead.” 

The decision to honor Fort Lauderdale with the naming of a naval vessel underscores the city’s historic ties to U.S. Navy which date back to the 1830s. It was then, during the Second Seminole War, that Navy Lt. Levin Powell commanded the “swamp sailors,” a contingency that reinforced Maj. William Lauderdale’s troops who were stationed along the north bank of the New River constructing the first of three “Fort Lauderdales.”  

Fort Lauderdale served as an important naval training center during World War II. Radar, gunnery and parachuting schools were operated at Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale, which today serves as Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport. In addition, West Prospect Airfield, known today as Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, served as a training facility for naval aviators, including former President George H.W. Bush.

The Fort Lauderdale Council, Navy League of the United States was established 1959 with Adm. Claude V. Ricketts serving as the organization’s first guest speaker. In 1988, the council established Fort Lauderdale’s first Fleet Appreciation Week. Broward Navy Days was formed in 1990 and the annual Fleet Week celebration was expanded to provide a one-of-a-kind experience to visiting U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard ships and personnel. 

Fort Lauderdale’s storied history with the U.S. Navy also includes having the distinct honor of commissioning six vessels in Port Everglades: the USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), 1987; USS Cole (DDG 67), 1996; USS Higgins (DDG 76), 1999; USS Bainbridge (DDG 96), 2004; USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109), 2010; and USCGC Richard Etheridge (WPC-1102), 2012. 

“Having a ship named in our city’s honor provides us with an opportunity to build upon the unique history, tradition, friendship and respect we have established with the U.S. Navy, while showing our appreciation to the courageous men and women who sacrifice each and every day to protect our liberty and preserve our freedom,” said Seiler. “We look forward to providing the services, resources and support to ensure the project’s success.”

By Professional Mariner Staff