The Navy recently announced a new ship they will build and introduce to the fleet will be named the USS Lafayette after the French General Marquis de Marquis de Lafayette who helped the American cause in the Revolutionary War. Who better to announce this addition than Marquis de Lafayette himself, General George Washington, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro and a handful of others on the lawn of the Mount Vernon plantation.
“They made me a major general at the age of 19,” the Marquis de Lafayette impersonator said to a crowd of dignitaries that included members of the French attaché, local military officials, the Navy band and the rest of the attendees on the hot July morning. The crowd included ambassadors from the United Kingdom, Mexico and Ukraine. Each was recognized by Del Toro.
“U.S. supports Ukraine today and will support you as long as it takes,” he said. “Americans of all walks of life have supported our freedom,” he added.
Del Toro is originally from Cuba and was brought here by his parents when he was a baby in the early 1960s and bounced that off the history of this country when the original settlers arrived back in the 1600s. “Many citizens like myself left other countries to seek a better life,” he said.
In 2002, Congress posthumously made Lafayette an honorary U.S. citizen.
The ship is currently in the planning stages. It will be built in a Wisconsin shipyard and is packed with high-tech equipment and will have multi-mission capability to conduct air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, electronic warfare, and information operations. In Navy talk, this includes air surveillance radar, Baseline Ten Aegis combat system, a Mk 41 vertical launch system, communications systems, Mk 57 gun weapon system countermeasures, and added capability in electronic warfare and information operations with design flexibility for future growth.
The ship would weigh 7,291 tons when fully loaded and have a 25-year service life, according to the technical drawing poster that was displayed at the ceremony. USS Lafayette, the fourth of the Navy’s new Constellation-class frigates, is scheduled to commission in 2029. The other ships in the class are USS Constellation (FFG 62), USS Congress (FFG 63), and USS Chesapeake (FFG 64), the Navy said.
The historical portrayers of George Washington and Marquis de Lafayette stayed in character the whole ceremony and were tight-lipped with their true identities. Washington’s wife “Kelly,” said they lived in California and returned sporadically when duty called. “He feels honored to play George Washington,” she said.