Heavily Armed Cruise Ship

Heavily Armed Cruise Ship

USS Spruance docks in Key West Commissioning set for October 1

Key West Mayor Craig Cates welcomes the crew of the USS Spruance to Key West this past Friday. Photo by Jason Koler

This Saturday, the Florida Keys be at the epicenter of a military-style party not witnessed since the USS Key West last appeared in her namesake city nearly 20 years ago. USS Spruance (DDG 111) arrived at Naval Air Station Key West Friday, Sept. 23 in preparation for its formal commissioning ceremony to be held Oct. 1.

The ship was greeted by Key West Mayor Craig Cates, Capt. Patrick A. Lefere, commanding officer of NAS Key West and John Dolan-Heitlinger, Spruance commissioning committee chairman as it docked at NAS Key West’s Outer Mole Pier on base.

“Key West has a long maritime history and a long and proud history with the U.S. Navy,” said Cates. “We are very proud that the Navy has chosen Key West to commission it newest warship, the USS Spruance.”

Key West Commissioner Barry Gibson said the Navy League and City Commission raised more than $160,000 to fund the ceremony.

“There will be more than 4,000 people here next week,” Gibson said, referring to the locals, out of state dignitaries, and military officers. “Its going to be a very good show.”

The ship, named in honor of Adm. Raymond Spruance, commander of Carrier Task Force 16 during the World War II Battle of Midway, is commanded by Cmdr. Tate Westbrook of Murfreesboro, Tenn.

“Ever since we knew the ship was to be commissioned in Key West, the city has come out in full force, including local businesses, to really welcome our crew,” Westbrook said. “In my 18-plus years of doing this, I have not seen a better or greater response to a ship. We are looking forward to exploring the entire island.”

The second Navy ship to bear the name and the 61st ship in the Arleigh Burke class of Navy destroyers, Spruance is a multi-mission ship that carries Tomahawk cruise missiles, a 5-inch gun, sonar systems and two helicopters.  It is powered by four gas-turbine engines and is capable of speeds in excess of 30 knots.

Following commissioning, Spruance will sail to its initial homeport of San Diego, Calif.

For more information on USS Spruance: http://www.public.navy.mil/surfor/ddg111/Pages/default.aspx

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