After 100 years, Rep. Jim Banks thinks it’s time for a second ‘USS Fort Wayne’

The first USS Fort Wayne served in the Navy only a year before being decommissioned and sold in 1919. (File photo)
The Navy will consider naming a Littoral Combat Ship like this one "USS Fort Wayne." (Courtesy photo)
Jim Banks

Inspired by a July 3 suggestion by News-Sentinel columnist Kevin Leininger, U.S. Rep Jim Banks has formally asked the Navy to commission a ship named for Fort Wayne.

In a letter sent this week to Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer, Banks requests naming a “littoral combat ship” USS Fort Wayne because “100 years have passed since the previous USS Fort Wayne was commissioned in 1918 and decommissioned in 1919.” Littoral Combat Ships are small, stealthy vessels designed to operate near shore.

As Leininger reported in July, the first USS Fort Wayne was an unimpressive World War I-era transport ship sold to a commercial firm just a year after it was put into service., her contribution to national defense seems to have been almost non-existent. And even though Fort Wayne is Indiana’s second-largest cities, numerous other Hoosier destinations have fared far better than the Summit City when it comes to ship names. Vincennes has had four ships named in its honor, and there have been USS Evansvilles. Freighters named for Elkhart County and South Bend served during World War II.

RELATED: KEVIN LEININGER: Ever hear of the USS Fort Wayne? Neither has anybody else, and maybe we should try to change that

In his letter, Banks, R-3rd, noted that Fort Wayne “is named in honor of Gen. Anthony Wayne, a Revolutionary War leader . . . Fort Wayne represents the American spirit and embodies the multi-ethnic blend of Native American, German, Irish and Burmese cultural traditions.” Banks also noted the city’s links to other prominent Americans, including former Vice President Dan Quayle, former senator and current National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and James Clapper, former director of National Intelligence, who was born in Fort Wayne.

“The greater Fort Wayne area is also known for producing key naval capabilities,” Banks added. “Navy anti-submarine warfare enabling capabilities, such as sonobuoys, are produced in the greater Fort Wayne area and employ hundreds of Hoosiers. The (World War II battleship Indiana’s) anchor is also displayed in Fort Wayne (at the Memorial Coliseum) to honor her World War II Pacific Theater accomplishments.”

A new U.S.S. Fort Wayne, Banks concludes, “would convey the American ideals of freedom and patriotism to honor those serving in the U.S. military.”