Sioux City Embraces Its Ship and Crew

When Joe Harbaugh of Iowa learned that the U.S. Navy had laid the keel for LCS 11 – the future USS Sioux City – after his hometown in February 2014, he was ready to enlist. Re-enlist, in fact.

“There's only one problem: They won't let me,” Mr. Harbaugh wrote in a letter to the editor to the Sioux City Journal. “I'm 80 years old ... too old to re-enlist. Darn.”

Such is the passion of residents of Iowa’s fourth most populated city, which has warmly embraced the Lockheed Martin-built littoral combat ship and its crew.

“Our citizens are pretty enthusiastic about the christening, launch, and eventual commissioning of the USS Sioux City,” said Chris McGowan, president of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber, along with Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott and other local officials, joined thousands of residents in welcoming CDR Kevin Ralston and the ship’s Crew 108 to the city in September.

“The Captain and crew of the USS Sioux City coordinated a surprise appearance at the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce banquet in September and received a standing ovation from the 1,500 people in attendance,” McGowan said.

A Lockheed Martin video presented the LCS and its capabilities. Later, after the crewmembers were introduced, they unveiled the ship’s crest. “It was the highlight of the evening,” McGowan said.

Since then, the Sioux City Chamber began selling LCS 11 hats, polo shirts, key chains and tumblers, with all proceeds going toward a fund that supports the crew and their families.

The city’s hometown newspaper, the Sioux City Journal, wrote in an editorial that “[h]aving a key vessel in America’s defense arsenal named for our community should be a source of pride for all Sioux Cityans.”

The editorial, published when Navy Secretary Ray Mabus first named the ship, added: “Due to its strong tradition of support for America's men and women in uniform, we can't think of any city in Iowa more deserving of this honor than this one.

We return the Navy salute. And look forward to the commissioning ceremony.”