The U.S. Navy’s newest littoral combat ship, USS Coronado, was commissioned in San Diego Saturday morning in a ceremony at Naval Air Station North Island.
Accompanied by the ship’s core crew of 40 officers and enlisted personnel, Cmdr. Shawn Johnston looked on proudly at USS Coronado as Adm. Mark Ferguson, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, delivered the principal address at the ceremony. In a time-honored Navy tradition, a first order was later given to “man our ship and bring her to life!”
For USS Coronado sailor BM2 Ricardo Tovar, Saturday’s commissioning was extra special, and a highlight of his Navy career.
“We’ve been working long hours but it’s all led up to this great day. It’s always good as a crew to see the ship come to life. Before it was just bare metal and now we’re actually a functioning ship on the waterfront,” Tovar told NBC 7.
As a boatswain’s mate, Tovar said he and fellow crewmembers have been primarily responsible for much of the manual labor aboard the vessel, including operating a lot of the machinery on board.
Now, he’s looking forward to seeing what the ship can do.
“I’m ready to get back to work, hit the waterfront. I’m excited for that,” he said.
The San Diego native said he’s also thrilled to be working back in his hometown, near his family, after being deployed overseas for many years.
USS Coronado is homeported in San Diego.
The highly-anticipated warship, underway since late January, arrived last month in San Diego after making stops in Florida, Guantanamo Bay, Colombia, Panama and Mexico.
The 2,790-ton ship was built by Austal USA Shipbuilding in Mobile, Ala., and is the fourth littoral combat ship, or LCS, in the Navy. Littoral combat ships are designed to be fast, maneuverable and flexible with minimal crew, hence USS Coronado’s 40-person crew.
This means sailors do much more than his or her primary job.
Tovar told NBC 7 the workflow on the ship is “nonstop” but is also very rewarding.
According to the Navy, USS Coronado is 417 feet in length. It was a waterline beam of 100 feet, and a navigational draft of 15 feet. The ship uses two gas turbine and two diesel engines to power four steerable water jets to speeds in excess of 40 knots. It’s capable of operating independently or with an associated strike group.
While the ship’s commissioning ceremony was exciting for the crew, it was also a memorable, happy moment for sailors’ loved ones.
“I’m very proud of my son. I’m so happy to be here,” said Trina Gatestraylor, mother of a USS Coronado crewmember.
Navy spouse Deanna Frelis said seeing the ship come to life was a very special moment for her family.
“It’s absolutely amazing. I’m very proud [of my sailor],” she said.
The USS Coronado is the third Navy ship to be named after the Crown City.