Santa Barbara native Lolita Zinke, the wife of President Donald Trump’s Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke, had the honor of christening the USS Santa Barbara LCS (Littoral Combat Ship) 32.
The vessel is the third U.S. Navy ship that has been named after Santa Barbara. The first two have been decommissioned.
The ship was christened Oct. 16 at Austal USA at the company’s Gulf Coast shipyard in Mobile, Ala. As the ship’s sponsor, Mrs. Zinke performed the ceremonial bottle break over the bow of the ship.
“A tremendous amount of pride that I was able to do this and represent my city, and it was an incredible honor,” Mrs. Zinke told the News-Press. “My husband was in the Navy, and my daughter is in the Navy. To be able to christen a ship and contribute to our military history in that way was an incredible honor. It was one of the greatest honors of my life.”
The ship is 419 feet long, with a beam (width) of 104 ft, and a draft (depth) of 14 feet. This combat ship berths up to 98 and will have a crew size of between 40 to 60.
“About a year ago in October of 2021 we had the keeling ceremony, when they were building a ship and I welded my initials to the haul of the ship. Austal then took about a year to build the ship,” said Mrs. Zinke.
After being commissioned in October 2022, the USS Santa Barbara will be stationed in San Diego, where the ship will join a network battle force, going on missions in the South China Sea.
“As a Santa Barbara girl, I am incredibly proud that we are able to bring this honor to the city and our beautiful town here. I am proud I was able to help facilitate in some way the third ship,” Mrs. Zinke said.
The commissioning ceremony will take place in October 2022 at Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara.
After the ceremony, the ship will receive its first commanding officer, executive officer and crew. The commissioning is often described as the formal marriage of the ship to the crew.
When the ship is released from Austal to the Navy, it will be “bare bones.” This essentially means the ship will be in need of soft furnishings, which includes dinnerware, bedding, etc.
The Santa Barbara Navy League will be fundraising over the next year, leading up to the commissioning ceremony. The goal is to raise $1.5 million. To donate, go to usssantabarbara.org.