USS ‘Santa Barbara’ Sails by Its Namesake Ahead of Commissioning
Battleship Seen Cruising by Stearns Wharf on Monday Ahead of Friday’s Ceremony in Port Hueneme
The USS Santa Barbara, a littoral combat ship that was christened by Lolita Zinke and launched in 2021, is set to be commissioned on April 1 at Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme, as part of the centuries-old tradition of welcoming ships into active Navy service.
Charles “Crash” Huff, president of the Santa Barbara Council Navy League, said the commission ceremony is to symbolize “bringing the ship alive, and the Navy’s acceptance of it into the fleet.”
In preparation for its commissioning, the vessel — which is the third U.S. Navy ship to be named after the City of Santa Barbara — cruised by Stearns Wharf on Monday, March 27, as a kind of farewell to her namesake city before she is commissioned and returned to her homeport of San Diego.
Sailing within 1,000 yards of the wharf, the ship showed off her battle ensign and other features that make her, as Huff put it, “about as sexy as a navy ship can be,” including a modular design that gives the combat ship the ability to accomplish a variety of missions. Littoral combat ships operate in near-shore and open-ocean environments to support forward presence, maritime security, sea control, and deterrence missions around the globe.
Lolita Zinke, a Santa Barbara native and wife of Donald Trump’s former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, will be the ship’s sponsor throughout the life of the ship. As part of the commissioning ceremony, Zinke will get up on the bow and proclaim “Captain, bring the ship to life,” prompting the crew to run aboard the ship, and the ship to blow its horn, puff out some smoke, and move its antenna to simulate it coming to life.
It has been almost five years since the ship was first named by Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. Huff said that once the USS Santa Barbara has been commissioned, the ship and its crew will still have some levels of training and qualifications to go through in order for it to be a certified “fighting ship.”