After 17 locks, five Great Lakes, four port visits, and hundreds of miles traveled later, USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul (LCS 21) at last arrived in the Atlantic Ocean, continuing its voyage to its future homeport, Mayport, Florida. The road to make it to the Atlantic Ocean included months of preparation from the crew. In less than two months after move aboard in March, the crew certified in several mission areas required to safely operate and get underway including: Search and Rescue, Navigation, Damage Control, Communications and Cyber, and passed its initial Engineering Light Off Assessment.
“It was humbling to be a part of a ceremony that was so important to so many people and to be a small part of the history of this ship is truly an honor,” said Lt. Joseph Varello, the ship’s Electronics Materials Officer, who was selected as both the Commissioning Coordinator and also the commissioning ceremony ceremonial Officer of the Deck.
Each evolution, although involving different departments on the ship, required careful coordination and support from each division and Sailor onboard and was necessary for the crew to be able to set sail from Escanaba, Michigan towards the site of its commissioning ceremony in Duluth, Minnesota. On May 21, the ship’s sponsor, Mrs. Jodi Greene, gave the order for the crew to “man the ship and bring her to life.” Amongst hundreds of onlookers, the ship made it’s much anticipated transition from pre-commissioned unit to United States Ship.
After the commissioning festivities concluded, the ship began her transit eastward. Along the way, she stopped in Cleveland, Ohio, Quebec City, Quebec and Halifax, Nova Scotia for refueling, stores replenishment and liberty for the crew. With only a few stops remaining before the ship arrives in Jacksonville, the crew is eagerly awaiting returning to their families and ready to take on the next challenges that will come their way as the Navy’s newest warship.