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Navy names new combat ship to honor St. Louis

A new ship bearing the name USS St. Louis will soon be present in American harbors.  

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced the name of the ship in front of the St. Louis Soldiers’ Memorial Museum on Friday.  

The new ship, LCS 19, belongs to one of two “littoral combat ship” lines, the Freedom variant. The ship is designed to stay close to the shore and target threats like mines, submarines, and surface craft. Mabus said that the ship can do “almost anything” and that at over forty knots, the St. Louis is amongst the fastest ships in the Navy. 

Why name it after St. Louis?

“Part of it is, the Secretary of the Navy gets to name them. And I feel a real special kinship to St. Louis. I grew up listening to the Cardinals,” Mabus joked.

More than that, though, the name USS St. Louis carries a legacy. The ship is the sixth with the name since 1828. One USS St. Louis earned eleven battle stars in World War II.

Credit Katelyn Petrin / St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis Public Radio
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus (left) and Mayor Francis Slay (right) at the naming ceremony.

“The fact that we’ve had five ships named St. Louis, the fact that there was a cruiser in WWII that got as many battle stars as any ship in that conflict,” Mabus said. “It’s a glorious name, and it ought to be continued.”

Mayor Francis Slay spoke at the naming ceremony, thanking veterans and their families.

“It’s a huge honor,” Slay said. “This is a recognition of the importance of St. Louis to the nation, to the history we have in serving in the military as a nation, and in the importance we have as a city to the nation overall.”

Mabus said that the St. Louis is one of 52 ships now being built, named after U.S. cities, and added to the Naval force. He also promised growth of Naval air forces, and said that within a decade, the Navy will have 304 ships. 

Kae Petrin covers public transportation and housing as a digital reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.

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