Commissioning committee and Santa Barbara Navy League prepares for next year’s commissioning
Excitement is in the air and on the sea with the anticipation of the USS Santa Barbara’s commissioning, in less than a year.
The ship (LCS-32) is to be commissioned in January 2023.
The ship was christened in the fall of 2021, as the News-Press previously reported.
The ship’s sponsor, Santa Barbara native Lolita Zinke, christened the ship in October. Mrs. Zinke is married to Ryan Zinke, who served as secretary of the interior during the Trump administration. (Today, Mr. Zinke is running for a congressional seat in Montana.)
The leader of the USS Santa Barbara Commissioning Committee talked to the News-Press recently about the highly anticipated commissioning.
“As we get closer to the commissioning, there will be community events in support of the ship and its crew,” Kevin McTague, chair of the USS Santa Barbara (LCS-32) Commissioning Committee and vice president of the Santa Barbara Navy League, told the News-Press.
“Traditionally there is an event held to honor the crew and their family members,” Mr. McTague said. “As we get closer to the commissioning, there are several events that surround the commissioning itself. Before that, we are looking at having namesake visits. Traditionally that is when the crew is identified, including the prospective commanding officer (PCO). The commanding officer and support staff come to visit. There will be more focused namesake visits addressing the officers and the ship itself.”
Mr. McTague explained that the responsibilities to the commissioning committee fall into three primary categories: raising funds, ship enhancements and organizing the week of commissioning events.
Raising funds is to provide support for the crew and the families including: perpetual scholarships and funds dedicated to morale boosting activities such as welcome home and deployment events, Sailor of the Year and Sailor of the Quarter announcements, and similar events and awards.
Ship enhancements include furnishing the ship with decor and comforts beyond the necessities that are provided by the Navy.
“We have the opportunity to put the community imprint on the ship,” said Mr. McTague.
Some possibilities being discussed include: Santa Barbara city street signs put in passageways and a replica of Santa Barbara Mission bells.
Also included will be “china in the war room including the ship’s crest and artwork that the ship approves,” according to Mr. McTague, as well as “additional creature comforts beyond the basics including: entertainment, books, CDs, videos and fitness equipment.”
Organizing the week of commissioning events includes: “providing information on commissioning events so the community can attend.” said Mr. McTague.
The commissioning committee works with the Commissioning Support Team, which is contracted by the Navy. The responsibility of the support team is to: “update site surveys and work with the commissioning committee, which we have begun earnestly over the last couple of months,” said Mr. McTague.
The commissioning team is also coordinating with the Santa Barbara Navy League to make this event possible.
“We are expecting that the commissioning support team will be visiting Santa Barbara in June,” said Mr. McTague.
Mr. McTague told the News-Press that once commissioned, the USS Santa Barbara will be under the command of LCS Squadron 1 in San Diego. The squadron is currently under the command of Capt. Jack Fay.