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Commissioning of the USS DETROIT slated for September, crew visits Detroit

USS Detroit

The commissioning of the USS DETROIT is right around the corner and the city, the Navy and the Commissioning Committee are putting the finishing touches on the celebration.

The ship will be commissioned in front of the Renaissance Center later this year (tentatively planned for September 17.) The sixth naval ship to be named for the City of Detroit is being built at the Marinette Marine Shipyard in Marinette, Wis.

That said, it seems only right that the first commanding officer of the Littoral Combat Ship USS DETROIT (LCS 7) has some say in how everything comes together. Commander Michael Desmond, USN, along with five members of his crew, made an advance visit to Detroit this week.

Electricians Mate First Class Matthew Harkless is from Pontiac and is a 2008 graduate of Rochester High School. He joined the Navy following graduation and has served on USS Stethem (DDG 63) in Yokosuka Japan, and now is a member of USS Detroit (LCS 7) Crew 103.

The USS Detroit team attended planning sessions with members of the USS DETROIT Commissioning Committee, formed by the Metropolitan Detroit Council, Navy League of the United States. They also attended meetings with Detroit civic and business leaders and elected officials and visited the John Dingell Veterans Hospital and Children’s Hospital.

The USS crew also took in Eastern Market and visited Western International High School in Southwest Detroit to check out the Navy Sea Perch education program (NRD). 

SeaPerch is a robotics program that teaches students how to build an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). They use a kit comprised of low-cost, easily accessible parts and follow a curriculum that teaches basic engineering and science concepts with a marine engineering theme. The students learn about robotics, engineering, science, and mathematics (STEM) while building the ROV and also learn engineering concepts, problem solving, teamwork, and technical applications.

The USS DETROIT is a fast, agile ship designed for a variety of missions in coastal waters as well as humanitarian relief missions.  The ship is capable of open ocean operations and the modular design supports interchangeable mission packages so it can be reconfigured for antisubmarine warfare, mine warfare, or surface warfare missions as-needed.

Formally called the Littoral Combat Ship USS DETROIT (LCS 7), this USS DETROIT IS is the sixth United States Navy ship to be named after our city. She will be the first USS DETROIT to be commissioned on the Detroit waterfront, but not the first to sail the Great Lakes.


First USS DETROIT Photo from the Commissioning Committee

That honor goes to the first USS DETROIT, a 12-gun ship built by the British at Malden, Canada, in 1813. It was captured by the U.S. Navy fleet commanded by Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry during the Battle of Lake Erie on September 10, 1813. During the battle, the British ship actually carried 19 guns and served as the flagship of Royal Navy Commander Robert Herlot Barclay.  Once captured, she was renamed USS DETROIT and kept in service on the Great Lakes until being scrapped in 1815.

The second USS DETROIT, a sloop-of-war, only held name from May 15 to August 10, 1869. Before and after these dates she was known as USS CANANDAIGUA.  This ship was a mis-naming during a massive re-naming exercise by the Navy.

The third USS DETROIT (C 10) was a Montgomery class cruiser in use from 1893 to 1904. Unfortunately, this class of cruisers was the poorest every designed for the U.S. Navy.  She was scrapped after her decommissioning, while some of her sister ships stayed in service till 1919 and 1921.



The fourth USS DETROIT (CL 8), an Omaha class light cruiser, was in service from 1923 to 1946. It survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and was one of the few ships to get underway during the attack on Pearl Harbor and earned six Battle Stars during WWII.  She was moored with the battleship USS MISSOURI during the surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay in 1945.

The fifth USS DETROIT (AOE 4), a fast combat support ship, was commissioned in 1970 and decommissioned in 2005. A deep-draft replenishment ship, she was too large to ever enter the Great Lakes for a visit to her namesake city.  She was home ported first on the West Coast and ended her service with her final home port of Bayonne, New Jersey.

This USS DETROIT was launched and christened on October 18, 2014 by Mrs. Barbara Levin, the ship’s sponsor and wife of long serving, retired United States Senator Carl Levin, during ceremonies at the Marinette Marine Shipyard.

Here are some facts about the ship:

  • It is propelled by waterjets and as a top speed in excess of 40 knots, making it the fastest surface combatant in the fleet.
  • The crew is composed of approximately 50 Navy men and women.
  • The flight deck not only support helicopter operations, but also Unmanned Arial Vehicles (UAV’s).
  • It has a draft of just more than 14 feet and is designed open ocean operations and can also operate in the shallow littoral waters of the world.

It shares the same goals as Detroit … increase forward presence, be fast and agile.

For more information about the USS DETROIT and the USS DETROIT Commissioning Committee, visit:

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