Navy Commissions USS 'America' In Fleet Week Ceremony on SF Waterfront

Navy Commissions USS 'America' In Fleet Week Ceremony on SF Waterfront
CBS SF Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — The U.S. Navy celebrates its 239th anniversary in a couple days and gave itself a very big gift Saturday, wrapped in red, white and blue.

At a ceremony on the San Francisco waterfront Saturday morning, an 844-foot-long amphibious assault vessel took her official place as the Navy’s newest member, the USS America.

She’s a symbol of American maritime strength.

“I think it means we are ready to stand up for what we stand for — and we’re prepared to back it up,” Edward Stetson, who came from Stockton to attend the event, told KPIX 5.

The USS America is the fourth ship to bear the name ‘America’ since the nation’s founding.

Although steeped in history, the new ship is also very much a 21st-Century war machine. She’s also a hybrid and, at slower speeds, can run on electric power, can carry two thousand Marines and has a complete onboard hospital.

After nearly five years’ work, ship builder George Jones likes seeing the crew aboard the vessel for the first time.

“It goes from being a project of raw steel and pipe to the crew on board. It becomes a floating city. They live on it and they serve our country on it, so to see that at the end is really the best part,” Jones told us.

By the end of the decade, the Navy is set to commission 32 more ships. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus told us the country is rebuilding the nation’s naval power.

“It will provide the presence that America has to have for our defense and our protection,” he said.

The USS America was built in Mississippi, where about 3,000 people worked for nearly five years to finish the ship. When she leaves San Francisco after Fleet Week she’ll be based in San Diego.

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