Visclosky Statement from Commissioning of USS Indianapolis

Oct 28, 2019
Press Release

Washington, DC – Below is the statement, as prepared for delivery, of Congressman Pete Visclosky, Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, from the commissioning of the USS Indianapolis at the Port of Indiana - Burns Harbor:

As the Congressman for Northwest Indiana, I want to particularly welcome all of our visitors who have come here to witness this historic event. 

The circumstances that allowed for this commissioning to occur are incredibly unique.  I thank the Navy, particularly former Secretary Ray Mabus, for having the foresight to name a ship being constructed on the Great Lakes after Indiana’s capital city, and the decision by the current Secretary of the Navy, Richard Spencer, to host the commissioning ceremony here at the Port of Indiana in Burns Harbor.  

Also, this commissioning would not be possible without the tireless efforts of the Commissioning Committee.  I want to thank each member of the Committee for their good work.

As I prepared my remarks today, I could not help but think of the late Senator Richard Lugar.  As a young boy, Senator Lugar was present at the commissioning of the battleship USS Indiana in 1942.  He went on the serve in the Navy, as Mayor of Indianapolis, and as we all know, in the U.S. Senate.  Last April, he delivered remarks at the christening ceremony for the vessel we are honoring today.  His passing earlier this year was a great loss to Indiana and the nation.       

Needless to say, when people think of Indiana, the Navy is not the first thing that pops into their head.  However, this state has played an outsized role in the naval history and continues to contribute to today’s fleet. 

Besides the historical lineage of the USS Indianapolis, the ships that have been named the USS Indiana also have had a very distinguished track record.  The current USS Indiana is a recently commissioned Virginia class attack submarine.

Further, Indiana is home to the third largest naval base in the world.  That base located in Crane, Indiana.

Even closer, ArcelorMittal is the primary supplier of steel plate, including armor plate, for the U.S. Navy shipbuilding industry.  Our hard-working American steelworkers are responsible for 99 percent of the steel used in the USS Indianapolis, much of it produced right here at the Burns Harbor mill. 

LCS-17 is testament to the hardworking and highly skilled men and women in the Navy and our nation’s shipbuilding and manufacturing industries.  Taking a ship from a set of engineering plans and turning it into a commissioned vessel is a major endeavor. 

Much like the USS Indianapolis crews that preceded them, this crew will inevitably sail this vessel into harm’s way.  Over seventy percent of our planet is covered by water, and we have inherent interests across the globe to protect.  Ninety-five percent of the world’s Internet information travels across the ocean floors on cables, and over ninety percent of our trade is shipped on the seas.  We have an obligation to ensure that the U.S. Navy and our service members are able to keep our nation safe and protect our national security interests in our uncertain world. 

The ship behind me, without its crew, is just that, a ship. 

It is the crew that that will bring this ship to life.  It is the crew that will complete its many missions.  To the crew, I have no doubt you will honorably and faithfully continue to stand the watch that the United States Navy has stood for 244 years.  I am also confident that the leadership of the USS Indianapolis will guide the ship through any peril, ensuring the safe, efficient, and effective completion of any assigned mission. 

Soon, the USS Indianapolis will depart – for her new homeport at Naval Station Mayport in Florida – and join her sister ships in LCS Squadron Two.  It is well known the rigors of establishing a new homeport for a ship and her crew.  It is a task that requires “all hands” participation and highlights the sacrifices of not only the crew, but also the sacrifices of family – most notably – spouses, significant others, and children.  Families are the unsung heroes of this vessel. 

I would be remiss if I did not take a moment and extend my personal gratitude to all the spouses, children, and other family members here today, and also to those who have already made the move to Florida ahead of the ship’s arrival.  Thank you.

To the crew, you will have many days of deployment ahead of you.  Know that you have the unwavering support of those here today and the nearly 6.7 million residents of Indiana.

Thank you again to everyone who had a role in this ship and celebration.