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Ship sponsor Lolita Zinke christens the USS Santa Barbara
USS Santa Barbara Christening. October 2021.

The Ship

USS Santa Barbara christening with ship sponsor Lolita Zinke. October 2021.

In October 2018, Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer called me and announced that an Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship will be named the USS Santa Barbara (LCS 32) honoring the California city. He then asked me to be her ship sponsor. Of course I agreed – I couldn’t believe it! She would be built in Mobile Alabama by Austal Shipbuilders. By October 2020, I found myself welding my initials into her hull at the keel laying ceremony.

Last Saturday, October 16, I had the privilege and honor of christening the state of the art LCS the USS Santa Barbara. The ceremony was held at the Austal Shipyard in the bay where she was built. I cannot describe the awe and pride I felt when I first saw her that day. As we entered the enormous bay, we saw her from underneath and I finally realized her beauty, her magnificent design, and her size.

Ship Christening’s are among the oldest of navel traditions. Many seafaring civilizations have maintained a tradition of formally dedicating a ship into their fleet. Although it has changed dramatically across the centuries, this tradition remains one of the most important events in today’s Navy. The christening tradition is believed to have originated in Viking culture yet still serves to imbue the ships journeys, missions and crews with God’s blessings.

On a clear, crisp fall day the Santa Barbara’s christening event was attended by Vice Admiral Trussler, Mr. Murdaugh of Austal, the Under Secretary Of the Navy the Honorable Ms Berger, Mayor Pro Tempore Oscar Gutierrez, Rear Admiral Casey and other dignitaries and special guests. Speeches were given in finally it was time for me to smash the bottle of Folded Hills sparkling wine over her bow. They say it is bad luck to not explode the bottle at first try, so I was determined not to fail. I wound up and smashed champagne all over this magnificent ship, myself and perhaps a few others. Streamers descended, music was playing and I was laughing and crying with joy at this momentous occasion. I shall remain the USS Santa Barbara’s sponsor for my lifetime and will always maintain a relationship with the ship, her crew and their families. I pledge to support them in whatever way necessary and to keep them foremost in my prayers.

About a year from now, the USS Santa Barbara shall be commissioned off of the beautiful coast of the city of Santa Barbara. She will then be turned over to her first crew and set sail back to San Diego where she will ultimately be stationed. I hope everyone can join me in welcoming this fine ship and her crew to our community. May God bless the US Navy and the USS Santa Barbara.

What Is A Littoral Combat Ship?

The Independence-variant LITTORAL COMBAT SHIP (LCS) is a high-speed, shallow draft multi-mission ship capable of operating independently or as part of a battle group. The LCS provides the Navy a lethal platform to conduct littoral and open ocean operations.

With recent lethality upgrades, to include the Naval Strike Missile, the LCS is conducting a broader range of missions in the western Pacific, including Freedom of Navigation operations. These ships are designed to defeat growing littoral threats and provide access and dominance along coastal waters. A fast, maneuverable, and networked surfacecombatant, LCS provides the required war fighting capabilities and operational flexibility to execute focused missions such as surface warfare, mine warfare and anti-submarine warfare.


Lethal and survivable small surface combatant

  • One-third the cost of large combatants
  • Fills warfighting gaps in littorals and strategic choke points globally

High volume, stable seakeeping platform

  • Reconfigurable mission bay supports containerized systems and unmanned surface/subsurface systems
  • Largest flight deck on any surface combatant (area for 2 MH-60)

Fuel efficient, high speed hullform

  • Long, slender, displacement hull slices efficiently through the water at any speed
  • Capable of speeds over 20 kts using only the modern, fuel efficient diesel engines – long endurance

Open architecture provides mission capability insertion

  • Flexible, common, modular mission packages
  • Volume to add lethality upgrades without changing hullform
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