LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Dozens of sailors are beginning their next mission, and they’re do so in the name of our capitol city.
Thousands of people braved the snow on Saturday to watch the commissioning of the Navy's newest warship, including many of the politicians who represent central Arkansas.
"I am proud to be here. On behalf of the citizens of Arkansas, an honor to have one of the Navy's most versatile ships, named after our capital,” said Senator John Boozman of Arkansas.
The USS Little Rock took four years and $440 million to build. It's a fast, high-tech ship with the ability to sail in very shallow waters. It was commissioned right next to the previous USS Little Rock, the first time that's ever happened. Now, the ship and its crew of 72 are ready for duty.
"I've been a sailor all my life, and I have been fortunate to serve in six different ships. I have loved them all, but none of them more so than this one. I can assure you, Little Rock's sailors are truly great. As a matter of fact, they are the very best I have known in more than 27 years in uniform,” said Commander Todd Peters, Executive Officer of the USS Little Rock.
Some of its sailors came to Little Rock over the summer to learn more about the city they now represent. Mayor Mark Stodola said he's honored to have them carry his city's name.
"You can be confident in knowing that the thoughts and prayers of the great and gracious people of Little Rock will be traveling with you,” said Mayor Stodola.
The new ship will deploy in 2018. The first USS Little Rock was commissioned during World War II and is now housed at a maritime museum in Buffalo, New York.