MARINETTE - Marinette Marine's fourth Littoral Combat Ship is taking shape at the shipyard.
Federal and state officials celebrated the official "laying of the keel" of the future USS Detroit Thursday.
The keel is generally the first part of the ship's hull to be constructed.
"These are wonderful days for shipbuilders when you get lay a keel of the next ship you're building," said Marinette Marine President and CEO Chuck Goddard. "It's really the start of the life."
The ship is sponsored by Barbara Levin, wife of U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.).
Both she and the Senator attended the ceremony.
This LCS is the second of a 10-ship contract through the Navy. The first, LCS Milwaukee, is also under construction.
Ten other ships were contracted to a shipbuilder in Alabama.
"We've almost doubled in terms of employment levels that we've had here," Goddard explained. "There are over 100 Wisconsin businesses and over 30 in Michigan in terms of all the equipment and materials that goes into this ship and so it's important to us and to our economy here."
Earlier this year, the Navy funded two more LCS ships.
"We're always weary until the contract option actually gets executed," Goddard said.
But talks of defense spending cuts have everyone on edge.
"What this is all about is the security of this country," said Levin.
Levin is the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which overseas the Department of Defense and its spending. He's confident funding will be there for the rest.
"The savings are determined by the fact that we had multi-year contracts. These savings will evaporate, be lost, unless the appropriations follow," Levin said. "So you can be 99.9 percent sure that the appropriations will be there."
The future USS Detroit will call Marinette Marine its home for another few years. It's expected to be delivered to the Navy in 2015.
Once complete, LCS Detroit will join the USS Fort Worth , another Marinette Marine-built LCS, at a port in San Diego.
Criminal investigators were called in to look into the fire that damaged three buildings in downtown Ripon Wednesday.
Gov. Scott Walker is calling for more trees to be harvested from a national forest in far northern Wisconsin as part of the state's efforts to spur growth in its struggling timber industry.
A man convicted in an arson that was made to look like a hate crime has been sentenced to 16 months in prison.
It could be closing time for many small cinemas across the country.
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