Behind-the-scenes look: US Navy ship named after Fort Lauderdale is soon to be commissioned

The U.S. Navy plans to commission the USS Fort Lauderdale on Saturday morning at Port Everglades, but the city’s celebrations started early.

The 12th San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship moored pier side on Monday and there was a patriotic performance by the South Florida Symphony soon after.

“My son is there and I know he’s excited,” Mildred Calderon wrote on the ship’s Facebook page.

The proud moment for the Landing Platform Dock 28 warship was about six years in the making.

Former U.S. Fleet Forces Fleet Master Chief Charles “Chuck” Clarke, who joined the U.S. Navy in 1987, advocated for its name. He retired in 2015.

Ingalls Shipbuilding workers started building the ship with large storage, a flight deck, and a hangar at Pascagoula, Mississippi, in 2017. It cost nearly $1.8 billion and it launched in March 2020.

The 684-foot-long, 105-foot-wide ship then completed the Navy’s acceptance trials on Jan. 31 and the Navy accepted the delivery on March 11. The Navy christened it on Aug. 21.

The ship then departed for Fort Lauderdale from Mississippi with a crew of over 360 sailors on July 11. It has been at Port Everglades Terminal 4 for three days.

The ship can hold about 650 Navy and Marine Corps personnel. It is equipped with missile launchers for air defense and it has the capacity to deploy MV-22 Osprey, hover crafts, trucks, and other vehicles.

Capt. James A. Quaresimo is USS Fort Lauderdale pre-commissioning unit commanding officer.

Capt. James A. Quaresimo, the ship’s pre-commissioning unit commanding officer, said on Thursday that the ship is useful for a range of combat and non-combat operations overseas.

With its own hospital and dental quarters, the LPD-28 is also equipped for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.

“We can establish a beachfront, establish the infrastructure, bring medical supplies down there, bring anybody that needs additional treatment back to us if necessary,” Quaresimo said.

After USS Fort Lauderdale is commissioned on Saturday, its next voyage is to the Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia.

The Navy’s force of San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ships includes USS San Antonio LPD-17, the USS Mesa Verde-LPD 19, the USS New Orleans LPD-18, the USS Mesa Verde LPD-19, the USS Green Bay LPD-20, the USS New York LPD-21, the USS San Diego LPD-22, the USS Anchorage LPD-23, the USS Arlington LPD-24, and the USS Somerset LPD-25.

The Navy’s goal is to have a 367-ship force-level by the Fiscal Year 2052. The Navy’s proposed FY2023 budget requests $27.9 billion in shipbuilding funding.

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