For the first time, a U.S. Navy vessel will be commissioned in the largely landlocked state of Indiana.

The USS Indianapolis littoral combat ship will be commissioned Oct. 26 at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor on Lake Michigan.

“Commissioning a new Indianapolis ship represents our capital city, our state, as well as all of the previous sailors that have served on Indianapolis,” said Ray Shearer, chairman of the USS Indianapolis Commissioning Committee. “This will truly be an once-in-a-lifetime event that will give the general public an opportunity to see and experience a historic celebration.”

The USS Indianapolis or LCS 17 is a Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship that was built by Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisconsin. It was commissioned by defense contractor Lockheed Martin, which claims the automated combat ship "can deliver dominance in near-shore environments" and has a flexible hull that can be modified to include different capabilities like "over-the-horizon missiles, advanced electronic warfare systems and decoys."

It's the fourth Navy vessel since World War I to bear the name of Indiana's capital. Most famously, the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and sunk during the closing days of World War II in the single greatest loss of life in U.S. Navy history. About 880 sailors died while stranded in the Philippine Sea, many eaten by sharks.

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“As governor and as a veteran of the United States Navy, it is a great honor to celebrate and commemorate the lives of all who have served on the first three Indianapolis ships,” Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said. “The USS Indianapolis will be a proud representation of the spirit of service embodied in the lives those of us who have called Indiana and Indianapolis our home.”

Multiple dignitaries will be on hand, including Jill Donnelly, the ship's sponsor and the wife of former U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly.

“The honor the United States Navy has bestowed on the Ports of Indiana-Burns Harbor is humbling,” Ports of Indiana CEO Vanta E. Coda II said. “To serve as host and backdrop for the U.S. Navy that created the very protection which allows U.S. commerce to thrive is an indescribable privilege.”

Anyone interested in attending the ceremony can visit ussindianapolislcs17.org.


Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.