- Associated Press - Saturday, May 7, 2016

MOBILE, AL. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire broke a bottle of champagne over the bow of the USS Manchester in Mobile, Alabama, on Saturday as part of the christening of the combat ship.

The ship is the second one in the U.S. Navy to be named after Manchester, the largest city in New Hampshire.

The Democratic senator’s initials were welded onto an aluminum plate that was placed in the keel, a beam around which the hull, or body, of a ship is built. Shaheen is considered a permanent member of the ship’s crew.

“American shipbuilders are the best in the world and this ship is another remarkable feat of engineering,” she said. “But what is always most impressive to me, is the professionalism and excellence of the sailors and officers who serve on these vessels.”

She added, “I’m very proud to be counted as a crew member of the USS Manchester and to be included in the Navy family.”

She also presented officials with a coin from Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas that will go into the ship’s mast stepping box - a time capsule of sorts containing items of significance and good luck to the crew.

The ship is an advanced high-speed and agile 419-foot combat ship. It is designed to face threats in shallow waters off coastlines and primarily perform surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare and mine countermeasures.

The ship was built at the Austal shipyard in Mobile. It’s the fifth built at the shipyard under a 10-ship, $3.5 billion contract awarded to Austral in 2010. Manchester-based Granite State Manufacturing built critical systems and components for the ship.

The first USS Manchester, a light cruiser, was commissioned in 1946 and primarily operated in the Pacific. It saw action during the Korean War, serving three combat tours and earning nine battle stars before it was decommissioned in 1956.

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