Sailors stand at attention after the crew manned USS Cincinnati (LCS 20) during the ship's commissioning ceremony, Oct. 5. (U.S. Navy/MCC Rosalie Chang)

GULFPORT, Miss. - The U.S. Navy commissioned the Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Cincinnati (LCS 20) during a ceremony Saturday, Oct. 5, in Gulfport.

More than 1,400 guests attended the ceremony for the fifth ship in naval service named for Cincinnati, the third-largest city in Ohio.

“From acquisition to construction, to testing and certification, she is a marvel of engineering that will extend our capabilities for any mission, from the middle of the ocean, to the shallowest of waters, enhancing our ability to project power at shore and at sea,” said principle speaker U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio. “The USS Cincinnati will extend the maneuverability and lethality of our fleet to confront the many challenges of our complex world.”

Guest speakers for the event included U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi, who discussed the dedication of the ship builders and the Sailors, and Commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples/Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe/Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa, Adm. James G. Foggo III.

“Each and every day, our ships sail alongside those of our Allies and partners, defending freedom, deterring aggression, and ensuring adherence to the rules which underwrite the greatest signal to our allies and our partners and best warning to our adversaries” said Foggo. “Naval presence is essential to our National Defense Strategy and to a peaceful, connected, and prosperous world.”

Cincinnati commanding officer, Cmdr. Jedediah Kloppel, reported to Foggo that the ship was ready and in his command. In addition, Penny Pritzker, the 38th U.S. Secretary of Commerce and the ship's sponsor, gave the traditional order to “man our ship and bring her to life!”

“This is the first crew in naval history to commission two ships in less than two years. This is the best crew I’ve ever served with,” said Kloppel. “From the start of this crew's journey, they have excelled. They achieved the highest scores and completed certifications early and inspections the first time, every time. It’s the unit cohesion, that special bond, that strength and unity that makes this a great crew.”

Kloppel took command of Cincinnati during a change of command ceremony, Oct. 3.

“Our ship motto ‘strength and unity’ is also the motto of our namesake city,” said Kloppel. “It’s the strength and unity that makes Cincinnati great. It’s the strength and unity that makes this crew great, and if USS Cincinnati is called into harms way, through strength and unity, Cincinnati would win.”

LCS is a fast, agile, and networked surface combatant. Its primary mission includes countering diesel submarine threats, littoral mine threats, and surface threats to assure maritime access for joint forces. The underlying strength of the LCS lies in its innovative design approach, applying modularity for operational flexibility.

Fundamental to this approach is the capability to rapidly install interchangeable mission packages (MPs) onto the seaframe to fulfill a specific mission and then be uninstalled, maintained and upgraded at the Mission Package Support Facility (MPSF) for future use aboard any LCS sea frame.

Seventy officers and enlisted personnel make up the crew of Cincinnati, which will be homeported in San Diego.

Adm. James G. Foggo III delivers remarks during the USS Cincinnati (LCS 20) commissioning ceremony. (U.S. Navy/MCC Rosalie Chang)

The future littoral combat ship USS Cincinnati (LCS 20) conducts acceptance trials in the Gulf of Mexico in February. (U.S. Navy/Austal USA)