As the only triply-landlocked state in the country, you may not think of Nebraska when you think about the world’s oceans. Although we are proud of our state's heartland heritage, we should be equally proud of the ships that have carried the name “USS Omaha” to the far corners of the globe.
Throughout history, there have been many ships with the USS Omaha name. Merely two years after we became a state, the first USS Omaha—a screw sloop—was launched in 1869, joining our nation’s growing navy. The ship's first assignment was with the South Atlantic Squadron, serving alternatively in both the North and South Atlantic from 1873 to 1879 before serving in East Asia during the final decades of the 19th century.
In 1923, the second USS Omaha joined our national fleet once again. This time, the USS Omaha (CL-4) served as the lead ship of the Omaha-class light cruiser in the Navy. It spent much of its career in the Pacific, working long distance patrols and conducting training exercises, while routinely winning fleet awards in gunnery and communications. Before America entered World War II, the Omaha was assigned to Neutrality Patrol in the Atlantic. There it served with great distinction, capturing a German blockade runner a month before the war officially began. The CL-4 version of the USS Omaha also rescued crew members whose ships had been sunk by enemy submarines or merchant raiders, saving many lives.
These ships have represented Omaha and our state well, and I was happy to see that a new USS Omaha was recently commissioned in San Diego, Calf. Sen. Sasse and I introduced a resolution recognizing the commissioning of the newest USS Omaha, which was passed by the U.S. Senate. The latest version is one of our Navy's Independence Class Littoral Combat Ships, and the current USS Omaha carries the distinction of being among the nation’s newest ship of its kind. It will enter the waters as an agile surface combatant, and one that I know will prove to be a capable tool in our nation’s naval arsenal.
Nebraska is far from the ocean, but that has not stopped countless men and women from our state from answering the call to serve in the United States Navy. Their service and sacrifice, both in times of war and peace, have helped ensure that we continue to enjoy the freedom of navigation around the world. They help protect our way of life.
We should all be honored knowing that now we once again have another USS Omaha carrying on this proud tradition. I know I speak for all Nebraskans when I wish the crew of this vessel well on their mission and in the years of distinguished service to come.
Thank you for taking part in our democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.