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Philanthropist Susie Buffett to help launch Navy's newest littoral combat ship into fleet

  • Philanthropist Susie Buffett is serving as the ship sponsor of the USS Omaha, the Navy's newest littoral combat ship.
  • The daughter of billionaire Warren Buffett will participate in a traditional commissioning ceremony Saturday in San Diego.
  • The Omaha World-Herald says the Berkshire Hathaway CEO will also attend.

The future USS Omaha littoral combat ship preparing to make a fuel stop at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay on Jan. 3, 2018 on its way to its homeport of San Diego.
Source: U.S. Navy
The future USS Omaha littoral combat ship preparing to make a fuel stop at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay on Jan. 3, 2018 on its way to its homeport of San Diego.

The Navy's newest Independence-class littoral combat ship will join the nation's fleet Saturday with a commissioning ceremony in San Diego, and the future USS Omaha has close ties to the family of Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett.

Susie Buffett, an Omaha philanthropist and the billionaire's daughter, is serving as the ship's sponsor.

As part of her honorary role, the Omaha World-Herald newspaper reported in April she planned to purchase "items for the ship to display onboard that will remind the crew of its namesake city."

The Omaha paper, which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, reported Thursday that Warren Buffett is expected to attend along with other prominent leaders from Nebraska.

"Since Omaha is located far from the ocean, it is particularly gratifying to have the Navy name a ship for my hometown," Susie Buffett told CNBC in a statement. "I'm honored to serve as the sponsor of the USS Omaha. We hope to create a lasting bond between Omaha, Nebraska and the men and women who will serve on this magnificent ship."

Back in 2015, she formally christened the future USS Omaha at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, with a bottle of bubbly.

"In a time-honored Navy tradition, she will give the order to, 'Man our ship and bring her to life!'," the Navy said in a release Thursday. The commissioning ceremony marks when the ship is officially accepted by the Navy and becomes a part of the active fleet.

Bob Kerrey, a former Nebraska governor and ex-U.S. senator, will deliver the ceremony's principal address, the Navy said.

As part of festivities leading up to the commissioning, there are parties planned in San Diego's marina area on Friday, including an invitation-only event hosted by Susie Buffett.

"The commissioning of the USS Omaha is a fitting tribute to Omaha's history and people," said Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., in a statement. "Even if we're the only triply landlocked state, whenever the USS Omaha is called to defend America, the crew should know that grateful Nebraskans are behind them."

The new littoral combat ship, built at a cost of about $440 million, is the fourth warship named for Nebraska's largest city. The 420-foot-long ship is designed to conduct surface warfare, mine countermeasures and anti-submarine warfare.

The Navy's first ship bearing the Omaha name dates back to just after the Civil War. The last one to see active service was the Navy's nuclear attack submarine USS Omaha, which served during the Cold War and was decommissioned in 1995.

The future USS Omaha conducted trials last month in the Gulf of Mexico. It made a fuel stop at the Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, then transited the Panama Canal on its way to its new home port of San Diego. The ship has a crew of about 90, including its aviation-related force.