AUGUSTA — About 1,000 people, a ship full of U.S. Navy sailors, several Augusta city officials, a few replicas of Augusta street signs, a set of moose antlers and a fiberglass sturgeon are expected Saturday in Eastport for the commissioning of the USS Augusta.

The newly built, 419-foot-long, 104-foot-wide Independence-variant littoral combat ship that is about to join the Navy fleet is named for Maine’s capital city.

As the ship’s namesake city, Augusta has some hosting responsibilities around the commissioning ceremony, even though the event is happening about 3 1/2 hours away.

In addition to hosting four events in Eastport, some before and some after the ceremony, Augusta officials said they will be bearing gifts, which they hope will go to sea when the ship heads to what will be its home port in San Diego.

The gifts are expected to include a set of moose antlers, reproductions of street signs from Augusta’s most prominent streets and one of the fiberglass sturgeons from an Augusta art project in which replicas of the large fish — which can sometimes be seen leaping in the Kennebec River in the city — were placed throughout the downtown area.

A fiberglass sturgeon adorned with Augusta landmarks, including the Maine State House, colorful buildings on Water Street and Memorial Bridge, is to be given Saturday to the USS Augusta at its commissioning in Eastport. The sculpture was painted by Heather Allen as part of a downtown art project last year. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Local resident Roger Pomerleau, co-chairman of a local committee responsible for fundraising for and organizing Augusta’s participation in the commissioning ceremony, expects a strong turnout for the event.


“It’s a rare opportunity. They don’t have these naming opportunities often,” Pomerleau said. “So it gets a lot of publicity for Augusta and, as the capital, we believe it’s significant for all the people of Maine.”

Navy officials said Wednesday the event had reached capacity and tickets were no longer available through the event’s website —

About 1,000 people are expected to attend.

The ceremony is to be streamed live at

Pomerleau suggested those attending the event from Augusta leave early and plan to be there by 9:30 a.m. or earlier because parking will be at a remote lot from which attendees will be bused to the pier where the USS Augusta is docked.

Pomerleau was also part of the organizing committee for the commissioning of the first USS Augusta.


The first USS Augusta, a Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered Navy submarine launched in 1984 and commissioned in 1985 at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, was decommissioned in 2009 after patrolling the seas for more than two decades. It served through the Cold War, stalking Soviet submarines and helping launch the war in Iraq in 2003.

Pomerleau said Eastport was selected as Saturday’s commissioning site due to its deep-water port and availability of pier space. Eastport also has a good relationship with the Navy, often hosting naval ships for the Fourth of July.

The USS Augusta was launched recently at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala. The Independence-variant littoral combat ship is to be commissioned Saturday in Eastport. U.S. Navy photo

Earl Kingsbury, community services director for the city of Augusta, and a member of the commissioning committee planned to travel Thursday to Eastport to make sure things are coming together for the events Augusta will host.

The USS Augusta is a littoral combat ship designed to strike fast. It can be set up for a variety of missions and has a shallow draft that allows it to provide defenses along the shoreline, Cmdr. Christopher Polnaszek, who will command the USS Augusta, told city councilors when he visited Augusta in February.

recent Government Accountability Office report found Navy ships are experiencing increasing maintenance delays and costs. The report cited littoral combat ships as being among the crafts having the greatest number of problems that prevent ships from operating effectively.

The USS Augusta was built at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Alabama. Littoral combat ships cost about $500 million, according to reports.

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