It’s not every day a city has a new Navy ship named in its honor. And Mobile is experiencing a ramped-up version of that honor because the new USS Mobile was built on Mobile’s own waterfront at Austal USA.
To celebrate, the city is planning a Mardi Gras-style parade Friday evening, with floats from most of the city’s mystic societies, marching bands and more. Mardi Gras parades, one of Mobile’s signature events, were canceled this year due to COVID-19, and when this parade was announced, enthusiasm was so great that the parade route had to be lengthened to accommodate all the expected crowd.
The parade rolls at 6:30 p.m. Friday in downtown Mobile. A fireworks display is planned at 9:30 p.m. on the waterfront.
The commissioning ceremony is set for Saturday morning but is not open to the public due to continuing COVID-19 concerns.
The keel was laid for USS Mobile on Dec. 14, 2018, and it was christened Dec. 7, 2019. It successfully completed sea trials last September and was officially delivered to the Navy in December 2020.
“I am impressed with the outstanding results achieved by the Navy and industry team during this acceptance trial of the future USS Mobile. We continue to see impressive results during trials as we work to provide warfighting capability to the fleet and the nation,” said Capt. Mike Taylor, Littoral Combat Ship program manager, at the time of the sea trials.
The USS Mobile (LCS 26) is a littoral combat, designed to be “highly maneuverable, lethal and adaptable ship designed to support focused mine countermeasures, anti-submarine and surface warfare missions,” according to the U.S. Navy.
The USS Mobile’s homeport will be in San Diego, California.
The Downtown Mobile Alliance notes that this is the fifth ship named for the City of Mobile.
“The future USS Mobile is the fifth ship to honor the city of Mobile, which has a rich historical relationship with the Navy,” the alliance says in a press release. “The first Mobile was a Confederate government-operated, side-wheel steamer operating as a blockade runner and captured in New Orleans in April 1862 by U.S. forces. Commissioned as USS Tennessee, the ship was later renamed Mobile. Commissioned in March 1919, the second Mobile, a Hamburg Amerika Lines passenger liner operating between Germany and the U.S. until the outbreak of World War I, was taken over by the Allied Maritime Council and assigned to the United States after the Armistice. Mobile (CL 63) participated in numerous Pacific Theater campaigns during World War II. Commissioned on March 24, 1943, the cruiser received 11 battle stars for the ship’s time in service and was decommissioned in May 1947. The fourth Mobile (LKA 115) was an amphibious cargo ship serving from September 1969 until decommissioning in February 1994.”
Shipbuilder Austal USA is Mobile’s largest industrial employer, with some 4,000 workers.