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USS Nantucket ready for action, carrying out naval legacy that began in Civil War

The future USS Nantucket.Fincantieri Marinette Marine

The first USS Nantucket naval vessel was commissioned for the Union Army during the Civil War, heroically attacking Confederate forts in South Carolina in 1863 while trading heavy fire with the enemy.

And now its namesake lives on, thanks to the dogged work of a shipbuilding team.

The Littoral Combat Ship 27, also known as the future USS Nantucket, was formally christened Saturday during a ceremony on the Menominee River at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine Shipyard, in Marinette, Wisc., according to a statement from defense contractor Lockheed Martin.

The ship, the company said, will serve targeted US Navy missions around the world.

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“Lockheed Martin is proud to celebrate this milestone for Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) 27 the future USS Nantucket,” said Steve Allen, Lockheed’s vice president of small combatants and ship systems, in the statement. “The LCS Freedom-variant is a resilient, flexible warship, designed to meet the evolving missions of the U.S. Navy.”

Nantucket Town Manager C. Elizabeth Gibson said in the company statement that the ship highlights the island community’s proud maritime legacy.

“The future USS Nantucket will truly honor the rich heritage of the people of Nantucket and the maritime legacy that the island represents,” Gibson said. “Having dedicated much of my life to living in and serving the town of Nantucket, I know just how proud our community is of LCS 27 bearing our island’s name and knowing that the ship and its crew will fulfill critical missions on behalf of the U.S. Navy for years to come.”

The ship’s official sponsor, Lockheed said, is Polly Spencer, wife of Richard V. Spencer, the former US secretary of the Navy.

Spencer said it was an honor for the ship to be named after her “home and a town with such a rich and storied maritime history.”

“I am proud to be the sponsor of the future USS Nantucket,” Polly Spencer said in the statement. “Seeing this great ship launched and christened, knowing the missions it will serve for the U.S. Navy, is a humbling experience.

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In a prior statement from the Navy, then-acting naval secretary Thomas Harker, whose successor, Carlos Del Toro, was sworn in Monday, said the future USS Nantucket will be a critical asset for his military branch.

“The future USS Nantucket will be the third U.S. Navy ship commissioned to honor the maritime history and spirit of Nantucket,” Harker said.

According to the Navy’s statement, the first Nantucket, a Passaic class coastal monitor, was commissioned on Feb. 26, 1863.

It was assigned to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron and participated in attacks on Confederate forts in Charleston Harbor on April 7, 1863, the Navy said.

During that perilous mission, the Nantucket was struck 51 times in what the Navy called a “valiant yet unsuccessful assault” on the critical southern port, according to the statement.

The ship was battered but its single-turreted monitor was repaired and returned to Charleston to support operations on Morris Island, the Navy said.

The second Nantucket, the statement said, was a wooden light ship built in 1907 for the Lighthouse Service and transferred to the Navy on April 11, 1917.

“During World War I, the ship continued its duties of warning vessels away from Nantucket Shoals and aided in guarding nearby waters against U-boats,” the statement said.

Lockheed said the vessel christened Saturday is flexible, fast, automated, and lethal, equipped with rolling airframe missiles and a Mark 110 gun, capable of firing 220 rounds per minute.

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Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.