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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 549-97
October 17, 1997

U.S. NAVY COMMISSIONS COASTAL MINE HUNTER SHIP

The Coastal Mine Hunter Cardinal (MHC 60) will be commissioned in Alexandria, Va., during a 10 a.m. (EDT) ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 18, 1997, at the Robinson Terminal Pier.

Three previous minesweepers have borne the name Cardinal. The first, AM 6, operated

for most of her career along the California coast; the second, AM 67, patrolled the 5th Naval District (Norfolk, Va. area) during World War II; and the third, YMS-179, a wooden-hulled coast minehunter was decommissioned in 1957.

Cardinal is the 10th of 12 Osprey Class ships authorized by Congress. Built by Intermarine USA in Savannah, Ga., the ship's hull is solid, continuous monocoque structure laminated from special fiberglass and resin. It is easy to maintain and will flex to absorb the violent shock of an underwater mine explosion. The ships are designed to have a very low magnetic and acoustic signatures, giving them an added margin of safety during operation.

It is 188 feet long, has a beam of 36 feet, and has a draft of 12 feet. It displaces 895 metric tons and has a top speed of over ten knots. The ship's primary mission is reconnaissance, classification, and neutralization of moored and bottom mines in harbors and coastal waterways during worldwide Navy operations. The ship is armed with two .50 caliber machine guns, a high definition, variable depth sonar used to search for mines, and a remotely operated robotic submarine used to neutralize mines.

Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri will deliver the ceremony's principal address, and Mrs. Jane Gephardt, his wife, is the ship's sponsor. In the time-honored Navy tradition, Mrs. Gephardt will give the order to "man our ship and bring her to life!" Another speaker at the event will be Hall of Fame baseball great Stan Musial, who played for the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinal Pre-Commissioning Unit has developed a close working relationship with the Cardinals baseball team.

Lt. Cdr. William A. Sheehan, USN, is the commanding officer of Cardinal with a crew

of five officers, and 45 enlisted personnel. Upon commissioning, Cardinal will join the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, reporting to commander, Mine Warfare Command, and will be homeported in Ingleside, Texas.

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