Congressman Cleaver Delivers Speech at the Christening of the USS Kansas City
(Mobile, Alabama) - Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II delivered his speech for the christening of the USS Kansas City, LCS 22, today in a special ceremony today in Mobile, Alabama.
The LCS 22 can support modular weapons, sensor systems and a variety of manned and unmanned vehicles to capture and sustain littoral maritime supremacy. Kansas City is the eleventh of 17 Independence-variant LCS Austal USA has under contract with the U.S. Navy.
The ship’s sponsor, Mrs. Tracy Davidson, wife of Admiral Philip S. Davidson, USN, Commander, United States Indo-Pacific Command, headlined the group of officials, naval guests, civic leaders, community members, and Austal USA employees who attended the ceremony beneath the hull of the ship in Austal USA’s final assembly bay. A native of Missouri with a degree from Southern Methodist University, Tracy is an active Navy spouse who has volunteered with family readiness groups, been an Ombudsman, served on support group boards, and mentored the Command Leadership Class.
Below are Congressman Cleaver's remarks:Video of the entire ceremony can be found here.
"Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for the privilege to address you all today. It is a great honor to be here at such a historic event. Thank you to Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer, Admiral Davidson and your wife Tracy for your leadership in making today’s events possible and for inviting me to partake. There are very few moments in one’s life to participate in or become a witness to history in real time. This is one of those moments, and I appreciate this wonderful opportunity. This fine ship, named after Kansas City, the largest city in Missouri and located euphemistically at the junction of jazz and boulevard of BBQ, will soon transfer into the water with a symbolic gesture of good luck and safe travels...with a bottle broken over the bow. The USS Kansas City, without a doubt, will carry with it many stories and journeys that only a few are privileged to make. I am proud that the Navy chose Kansas City, a city I represented during the 90’s as its Mayor and now as its Member in Congress, to hold the title of this Littoral Combat Ship.
Kansas City shares a unique history with the Navy. There is one story in particular that comes to mind regarding the Darby Steel Corporation in the Kansas City West Bottoms. In the 1940’s and 50’s, Darby produced LCT’s…the Landing Crafts for Tanks.
During World War II, these LCT’s were used in various missions and invasions across the globe. History states, the skilled craftsmen and women…mostly women at that time…would build a ship a day and then float them more than a thousand miles along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers until they reached the Gulf of Mexico. It was the biggest shipyard operation in the entire Midwest region. As told by two news reporters, Haskell and Fowler, in one moving story, the company built about 60 of these vessels in Kansas City and Leavenworth for the Navy during World War II, however, the ships were relegated to the docks because the water was too low to sail them down-river. The Navy needed those vessels, and right away, so they found a dam at Ft. Peck…far up the way in Montana, and ordered the water released from the dam. The water was released, but by the time it traveled all the way to Missouri, it only increased the water level by one inch. But by God’s grace, days later, clouds rolled over Kansas City and torrential rains came. The river rose four feet overnight. Days later, Operation Overlord was given the green light, and, On June 6, D-Day was upon us! Those same midwestern barges, built in Kansas City, Missouri, were sent to the beaches of Normandy for the most consequential invasion in American history. That was history in the moment.
To think where the USS Kansas City might end up in history is exciting. The reconfigurability of the ship makes it a force multiplier in any environment for the Navy. Perhaps this vessel will be crucial in search and rescue operations or a critical link in security operations. Perhaps it will be used to build partnerships with other nations by entering previously inaccessible, shallow-water foreign ports. What the future holds for this ship, is anyone’s guess. What I do know, without a doubt, is that the brave men and women, who took an oath to uphold the constitution and protect you and I and the liberty we hold so dear, are the true heroes and protagonists of this story. They are the ones who will be making history. They are the ones who will serve on this ship and who will make all of us from around the nation, but especially those of us from Kansas City proud as it sails with our city’s name.
As you know, this is not the only vessel named in honor of the Show Me State. The USS Missouri, also known as the “Mighty Mo”, serves as a marker in history. It was the last battleship commissioned by the United States and is remembered to this day as the site where Japan formally surrendered, ending World War II. In fact, over 30 ships have been named after the state of Missouri…its cities, places, and people…including one of my personal inspirations, President Harry S. Truman.
As I close, I want to convey that this ship will sail with the support of the entire city. Any sailor who steps aboard the USS Kansas City will find themselves an honorary Kansas Citian and a constituent of mine. Go therefore, USS Kansas City and make your mark, assume your place in history. Be proud of your accomplishments and make the most of your failures. As President Truman through his wit and wisdom once said, “Men make history. History does not make the man.”
Thank you and God Bless."
Emanuel Cleaver, II is the U.S. Representative for Missouri’s Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee’s Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, North Kansas City, Gladstone, Claycomo, and all of Ray, Lafayette, and Saline Counties. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, and also a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus. For more information, please contact Heather Frierson at 816-842-4545 or Heather.Frierson@mail.house.gov A high-resolution photo of Congressman Cleaver is available here.