SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A new shallow-draft Navy ship that is faster than its predecessors arrived at its homeport of San Diego today.
The 378-foot USS Fort Worth, named for the Texas city that is the nation's 16th largest, is the Navy's third littoral combat ship. It was commissioned in a ceremony in Galveston, Texas, on Sept. 22.
As a littoral combat ship, the Fort Worth can travel in less than 20 feet of water and reach speeds of up to 40 knots in 90 seconds, according to the Navy, which is expected to use the more agile, maneuverable vessel to better fight piracy, drug trafficking and terrorism at sea.
"This class of ship is designed to operate in the shallow, littoral areas of the world," said Vice Adm. Thomas Copeland. "The Straits of Hormuz, the Straits of Malacca, the South China Sea are good examples where this ship is optimized to operate."
The Straits of Hormuz are the opening to the Persian Gulf, bringing vessels close to Iran. The pirate-infested Straits of Malacca run between Indonesia and Malaysia, carrying one-third of the world's trade and half its oil, according to the Asia-Pacific Journal.
The versatile class of vessels can be configured in different ways, depending on the type of mission they are assigned.
The Fort Worth is designed to be operated by up to 75 crew members. Its armament includes an MK 110 57 mm gun, rolling airframe missiles and a torpedo system.
Some of the sailors -- many of whom wore white cowboy hats to honor the ship's namesake -- have been separated from their families for seven months.