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The Navy’s newest ship honors Baseball Hall of Fame members

The USS Cooperstown is the latest littoral combat ship, the type of vessel that the Navy does not want.
Nicholas Slayton Avatar
The Navy's USS Cooperstown at its commissioning ceremony. (Photo courtesy U.S. Navy)

This weekend the Navy celebrated the commissioning of its latest littoral combat ship, the very class of ship it is trying to do away with. 

Crowds gathered in New York City for the commissioning ceremony of the USS Cooperstown, which honors among others 70 Hall of Fame baseball players who served in the military during war. The ceremony was attended by Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro as well as Baseball Hall of Fame members Joe Torre and Johnny Bench. The ship is named for the New York town that is home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

““It is critical that we honor the legacy of these Hall of Famers, not just for what they did on the field, but for what they sacrificed and what they accomplished off the field,” Torre said at the ceremony. “Their legacy lives on with the USS Cooperstown and with the Sailors here today and in the years to come.”

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The USS Cooperstown is a Freedom-class littoral combat ship, which the Navy describes as “fast, agile, mission-focused platforms designed to operate in near-shore environments.” The Cooperstown was christened in 2020. The 70 Hall of Fame baseball players the ship is meant to honor took part in the United States’ conflicts, from the American Civil War through the Korean War. 

“LCS 23 honors the baseball greats, who in service of our Nation, sacrificed their baseball careers for us,” Del Toro said at the ceremony. “I have full confidence that the officers and crew of this great ship will continue to honor their legacy.”

In keeping with the theme, the USS Cooperstown was given the motto “America’s away team.”

Littoral combat ships are also the same line of vessels that the Navy is hoping to offload and decommission. A shipbuilding plan released this spring showed that the Navy aimed to sell six littoral combat ships, four Freedom-class variants and two Independence-class ones. They were all commissioned within the last eight years. 

The littoral combat ships were built to go after anti-ship mines and hunt submarines, but the program has seen high costs with repeated mechanical issues and failures. The vessels have even gained the nickname “little crappy ships” and the Navy itself wants to move past them, given its focus on building up the Navy for peer-to-peer or near-peer fights. As a result, the U.S. Navy’s budget calls for decommissioning nine Freedom-class ships and it also wants to sell those six littoral combat ships through the Defense Department’s Foreign Military Sales program.

Although the USS Cooperstown was only just commissioned, it has been operating for several months. In March, the crew responded to a distress signal from a ship in the Atlantic Ocean, rescuing the sailor 

The USS Cooperstown will be based in Florida.

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