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The next step in the construction of a new naval support ship named by the Navy as “USNS City of Bismarck (T-EFP-9)” is eagerly anticipated. A ceremony for the new ship honoring the City of Bismarck is expected to be held on Saturday, May 13, 2017, at Austal Shipyards in Mobile, Alabama. The Navy has not yet confirmed the date. It will be the ship’s “Christening” in which she will be named USNS City of Bismarck.
A “Christening” ceremony is a long-standing tradition in U.S. Navy shipbuilding in which ships receive their names during the construction process. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus chose former United States Representative Jane Harmon of California as the sponsor of USNS City of Bismarck. Harmon currently serves as the Director, President and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson Center. Harman is a magna cum laude graduate of Smith College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and Harvard Law School. She was a member of Congress from 1993 to 2011 except for one term when during the 1998 election she ran for governor of California.
USNS City of Bismarck Committee Chairman Bob Wefald was given the honor of authenticating the keel of our ship in the “Keel Laying” ceremony held on January 18, 2017. According to Wefald, “This christening ceremony brings our ship a step closer to carrying the proud name of our city across the oceans of the world.” It is expected the "City of Bismarck" will be delivered to the Navy’s Military Sealift Command later this year.
The USNS City of Bismarck is a high speed expeditionary fast transport ship capable of 45 knot/49 mph designed to move troops and equipment in a theater of operations. It will have a civilian crew of 24 and it will be able to carry 312 troops and all their equipment. It is also capable of landing the Navy’s largest helicopter. It is powered by four diesel engines driving water jets. It displaces 1,515 tons of sea water. It is 337 feet long, 93 feet 6 inches wide with a draft of 12 feet 7 inches.
“For the Navy to have twice honored our state and its capitol city is a truly great honor,” commented Wefald when he appeared before the Bismarck City Commission April 11 to provide an update on construction and the christening. On October 25, 2014, the second ship named for our state, the USS North Dakota (SSN-784), was commissioned and is currently at sea testing various weapons prior to her deployment early next year.