Navy secretary to visit for USS Charleston naming ceremony

The littoral combat ship Coronado is rolled out at the Austal USA assembly bay in Mobile, Alabama, in 2011. The Navy on Tuesday announced a new littoral combat ship is to be named after Charleston.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus will be in Charleston on Friday to mark a U.S. warship being named for the city for the sixth time.

Secretary Ray Mabus will join Mayor Joe Riley in a naming ceremony for the yet-to-be built warship USS Charleston.

The vessel will be part of the fleet's group of "littoral ships" designed to operate close to shore for combat duties that include mine detection and removal, anti-submarine defenses and defense against hostile fast-speed surface craft.

The ship is in the planning stages but is expected to be nearly 400 feet in length, with a speed of more than 40 knots.

Construction will be done by Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama, with the keel being set in December and delivery made by December 2017. Price tag: $440 million.

A March 3, 1819, act of Congress formally placed responsibility for assigning names to the Navy's ships with the Secretary of the Navy, "a prerogative which he will exercise during Friday's ceremony," according to a media release.

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Ship names are assigned based on a variety of factors, including categories of ships, distribution of geographic names of ships of the fleet, recognized achievements by individuals or other contributions deemed in need of recognition, the Navy said.

Billings, Indianapolis and Tulsa, for example, are other city names previously assigned to the littoral fleet.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551