One of the U.S. Navy’s latest generation of shallow-draft transport craft will be named the U.S. Naval Ship Millinocket in honor of Millinocket and East Millinocket, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said Wednesday.
The U.S. Navy’s third joint high-speed vessel will follow in the tradition of the USS Stephen W. Groves, a guided-missile frigate named after an East Millinocket flyer posthumously awarded the Navy Cross during World War II, while honoring the town of Millinocket, Mabus said in a statement.
“Millinocket displays American values of community and ingenuity at their best,” Mabus said. “I chose to name the joint high speed vessel after East Millinocket and Millinocket to honor those values and the men and women of the community that represents them no less today than it did in the early 1900s.”
Shallow-draft transports for troops, military vehicles and equipment, joint high-speed vessels can carry 600 short tons and travel 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots. They are designed to provide U.S. forces added mobility and flexibility, according to a U.S. Navy site dedicated to the subject.
They feature a 20,000-square-foot open mission deck, an aviation flight deck to support day and night air vehicle launch and recovery operations, and have berthing space for up to 42 crew members, 104 personnel, and airline-style seating for up to 312, Navy officials said.
U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, R-Maine; and 2nd District U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, applauded Mabus’ decision to honor the Katahdin region.
“Millinocket is a proud community that was built on a rich history of hard work, determination, and perseverance,” said Collins, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Defense. “These are the same qualities that will be reflected in all those who serve aboard the Millinocket for years to come.”
Michaud said the vessel would be the second named after Millinocket. The USS Millinocket, a freighter, was torpedoed and sunk in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Cuba on June 17, 1942. A plaque dedicated to the Millinocket hangs in that town’s municipal office.
“I’m pleased that the Navy chose to name another ship after the town of Millinocket, on the 70th anniversary of the sinking of the USS Millinocket,” said Michaud. “Maine has a long, proud history of shipbuilding that deserves to be recognized and honored by the naming of our Navy’s vessels.”
Snowe and Collins pointed out that the Millinocket would join the Navy about a year after the USS Stephen W. Groves was decommissioned. Stephen Groves was a 25-year-old Navy ensign from East Millinocket who died during the Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942, after taking off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet.
Mabus said he liked Millinocket’s rich history as a papermaking town ― at one time home to the world’s largest paper mill. During the Great Depression, showing a great sense of community, millworkers coordinated to reduce the number of hours individual employees worked to ensure that all employees could provide for their families, he said.
Correction: This story was amended to clarify that the USNS Millinocket will not replace the USS Stephen W. Groves.