Representative Wenstrup, [VIPS/DVs], Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning. It’s great to be here in sunny Gulfport!
Today we are commissioning USS Cincinnati – what a terrific day to be in the Navy! But the history of Cincinnati’s namesake goes back long before the valiant ships that would bear the name. In fact, the City of Cincinnati, which gives its name to this ship, was named after a brave Roman soldier, Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, who lived in the 5th century BC. Cincinnatus was a hero. This is an important historical connection to make, but also a personal one for me. My command is located in Naples, Italy.
As a Roman statesman, he gained fame for his selfless devotion to the Republic. Roman leadership was in crisis, the consular army was surrounded by the Italiac tribe Aequi, from the Apennine Mountains in central Italy, on Monte Algido [Mount Algidus] – a strategic hill about a 2.5 hour drive from my command in Naples. Cincinnatus was appointed dictator of Rome in order to enact a rescue. After defeating the enemy in a single day, Cincinnatus resigned his authority and relinquished the absolute power he had been given. He chose instead to retire to his farm.
In doing so, he exhibited the ideals of civic virtue, courage, and selfless service – the very ideals exhibited by our own founding father, George Washington. In fact, George Washington was elected the first President General of the Society of the Cincinnati, a distinguished group dedicated to preserving the ideals and fellowship of the officers in the Continental Army who served during the Revolutionary War. The motto, Omnia reliquit servare republicam ("He relinquished everything to save the Republic”) reflects the selfless service of Cincinnatus and our founding fathers.
Indeed, Washington’s relinquishing command of the Continental Army, refusal to accept any monarchical powers and voluntary resignation after two terms as President to return to his Mount Vernon farm provide great parallels to Cincinnatus.
Major General George Olmsted was also a member of the Society of the Cincinnati – and a natural born leader, just like Washington. After serving with distinction in World War II, he became a successful businessman and philanthropist, creating the Olmsted Foundation which gave me the opportunity to study abroad as an Olmsted Scholar.
The USS Cincinnati is namesake to a great city, the legacy of Cincinnatus, and the spirit of the Society of the Cincinnati. USS Cincinnati is joining a tremendous legacy, being the fifth ship to bear the name. Indeed, the U.S. Navy has been fortunate to have the honor of a USS Cincinnati dating back to the Civil War.
That first ship was known for steadfast resolve – a steam-wheel gunboat, the ship was sunk – twice. But the ship was raised and returned to service each time.
The second USS Cincinnati was the first of a new class of cruisers and quickly proved its mettle in executing naval supremacy. She even sailed in my backyard – the Mediterranean – while upholding U.S. interests around the globe.
Next was the Omaha-class light cruiser USS Cincinnati (CL-6), who spent time in both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets before being assigned convoy escort duties during World War II. In 1944, she sailed to the Mediterranean to support Operation Dragoon, the Southern Landings in France.
The fourth USS Cincinnati (SSN-693) was a Los-Angeles-class submarine that patrolled the world – quite literally. This sub conducted an around the world cruise, steaming more than 60,000 miles. Part of the Cold War, the submarine conducted patrols to ensure the freedom of the seas – and even hosted President Nixon onboard overnight after a patrol in the Mediterranean.
That brings us to today, where we see before us the fifth ship to bear the noble name – USS Cincinnati. This littoral combat ship, to be homeported in San Diego, is an agile, networked, and stealthy surface combatant designed to defeat the littoral threat.
Like all of the ships bearing the name Cincinnati, LCS-20 will work with Allies and partners to ensure the freedom of the seas, enabling maritime trade to flourish. Seaborne trade is the lifeblood of global trade, as 90 percent of all trade occurs via the world’s oceans. And the Navy’s presence is vital across the globe: the South China Sea, Baltic Sea, Black Sea, and the Strait of Hormuz.
Your ship will be a key pillar of the Navy’s presence in the Indo-Pacific theater. As a MCM Mission Module Ship, with missile decks for the Navy Strike Missile, you will have an important role. Right now, one of your sister ships, USS Gabriel Giffords has deployed the new Naval Strike Missile, marking the first deployment of the weapons system on an LCS. Along with the MQ-8C Fire Scout, an over-the-horizon surveillance and targeting drone, the LCS can place out out-ranged enemy warships in peril.
To the men and women of Austel, who helped build this impressive warship, I thank you for a job well done. To the men and women of Cincinnati – be ready. Your Nation and your Navy are counting on you to sail whenever and wherever needed, so that we may always have credible forces ready to assure, deter, and defend against any adversary.
Each and every day, our ships sail alongside those of our Allies and partners, defending freedom, deterring aggression, and ensuring adherence to the rules which underwrite the greatest signal to our allies and our partners and best warning to our adversaries. Naval presence is essential to our National Defense Strategy – and to a peaceful, connected, and prosperous world.
To the crew of the Cincinnati – fair winds and following seas! On behalf of the United States naval surface force, I proudly accept ownership of the navy’s newest ship to the Fleet.
It is now my honor to introduce Representative Brad Wenstrup.
Brad Wenstrup was elected in 2012 to represent the people of Ohio's Second Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. He brings experience as a doctor, Army Reserve officer, Iraq War veteran, and small business owner to help Congress tackle the economic and security challenges facing the nation.
A Cincinnati native, Brad graduated from Saint Xavier High School and the University of Cincinnati. He went on to earn a medical degree in Chicago as a podiatric physician and after completing his surgical residency he established private practice in Cincinnati, treating patients for 26 years.
Brad has served in the U.S. Army Reserve since 1998, currently holding the rank of colonel. In 2005-06, he served a tour in Iraq as a combat surgeon, and was awarded a Bronze Star and Combat Action Badge for his service. In 2018, Colonel Wenstrup was awarded the Soldier's Medal for heroism.
During his time in Congress, Brad is fulfilling his Reserve duties by serving as the Medical Policy Advisor for the Chief of the Army Reserve as well as seeing patients at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda.
Thank you, Representative, for joining us here today.