This morning, despite the fact that the USS Milwaukee is iced in at Marinette, the vessel's commanding officer, the ship's builder and other dignitaries are officially presenting the USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) to Milwaukee's business and political leaders at a breakfast in the Pilot House at Discovery World.
One glance at the frozen lake and you'll understand why the new USS Milwaukee is still moored in the town in which it was built. I read yesterday that 79 percent of the lake is frozen and Milwaukee's harbor is one of the few places to have some open water.
But The Pilot House is packed this morning nevertheless and the group will hear speakers including Commissioning Committee Chair, Vice Admiral Dirk J. Debbink, U.S. Navy Reserve (retired), Chuck Goddard, president and CEO of Marinette Marine Corporation (which built the ship), USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) Commanding Officer, Commander Michael Brasseur, Mayor Tom Barrett, County Executive Chris Abele and Gov. Scott Walker.
"Milwaukee's christening serves as a tribute to this great American city, but also to the hard working people of Wisconsin and our nation's entire industrial base," said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus in a statement issued on the occasion of the christening of the vessel by Sylvia Panetta, wife of former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
"LCS is one of our most important platforms and represents the future of the Navy. Our commitment to this program remains as steadfast as that of those who helped build this great ship."
The 388-foot long littoral combat ship – which can reach speeds above 40 knots – will be the fifth vessel to carry the USS Milwaukee name.
The first was a Civil War-era double-turret ironclad river monitor. The second, a St. Louis-class cruiser (C-21), was lost in 1916 while attempting to free a submarine that had run aground. The third USS Milwaukee was an Omaha-class light cruiser (CL-5), which served through World War II in the Atlantic, and the fourth was a Wichita-class replenishment oiler (AOR 2), that was decommissioned in 1994.
The new USS Milwaukee is the only one of the five to have been built in Wisconsin.
According to the Navy, Littoral combat ships are fast, agile surface combatants optimized for war fighting in the highly trafficked near-shore regions of the world against asymmetric "anti-access" threats. Through its innovative design, LCS can be reconfigured for surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and mine countermeasures. This versatility enables Navy to provide war fighters with the most capable, cost-effective solutions to gain, sustain and exploit littoral maritime supremacy.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.