Laying the Keel

Laying the Keel

The Lockheed Martin-led industry team officially laid the keel for the U.S. Navy’s 19th Littoral Combat Ship, the future USS ST LOUIS (LCS-19), in a ceremony held on May 17, 2017 at Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wis.

Barbara Broadhurst Taylor, the ship’s sponsor, completed the tradition of authenticating the keel by welding her initials onto a steel plate that will be placed in the hull of the ship. This action is the formal recognition of the start of the ship’s construction.

“It is a tremendous honor to serve as the sponsor of the future USS ST LOUIS,” Mrs. Taylor said. “The keel-laying ceremony is a great milestone, and I look forward to supporting the ship and its crew throughout the building process. I know the people of St. Louis and Missouri will proudly support her when she is commissioned and officially enters the Navy fleet.”

USS St. Louis

Christening and Launch

 Christening and Launch

The Navy christened and launched the future USS ST LOUIS (LCS-19) at a ceremony held on Dec. 15, 2018 in Marinette, Wis.

Barbara Broadhurst Taylor, the ship’s Sponsor, followed the Navy’s time-honored tradition of christening the ship by breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow. Immediately after, the ship was launched into the Menominee River at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine Shipyard. U.S. Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri served as the principal speaker at the ceremony.

“The future USS ST LOUIS honors not just the great city of St. Louis, Mo., but also the skilled industrial workforce who built this ship,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “This christening marks the transition of USS ST LOUIS being a mere hull number to a ship with a name and a spirit, and it is a testament to the increased lethality and readiness made possible by the combined effort between our industrial partners and the Navy and the Marine Corps team.”

The ship is a fast, agile, focused-mission platform designed for operation in near-shore environments as well as the open ocean. It is designed to defeat asymmetric “anti-access” threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft.

The LCS-19 honors Missouri’s major port city of St. Louis along the Mississippi River. She will be the seventh ship to bear the name of St. Louis. The first was a sloop of war, the second a Civil War gunboat, followed by a Spanish-American War-era steamer troop ship, a World War I cruiser, a World War II light cruiser, and a Cold War-era attack cargo ship.

Sea Acceptance Trials

Sea Acceptance Trials

The future USS ST LOUIS completed acceptance trials in Lake Michigan on Dec. 16, 2019. The ship will undergo final outfitting and fine-tuning before delivery to the Navy in early 2020.

The LCS-19, the tenth Freedom-variant ship designed by Lockheed Martin, was built by Fincantieri Marinette Marine. The LCS network delivers advanced capability in anti-submarine, surface and mine countermeasure missions, and is easily adapted to serve future and evolving missions. According to Lockheed Martin, the LCS ships have these characteristics:

  • Flexibility: Forty percent of the hull is easily reconfigurable, able to integrate Longbow Hellfire Missiles, 30 mm guns, and manned and unmanned vehicles designed to meet a variety of missions now and in the future.
  • Lethal: Standard equipment includes Rolling Airframe Missiles and a Mark 110 gun, capable of firing 220 rounds per minute.
  • Speed: LCS is capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots.
  • Automated: LCS has the most efficient staffing model of any combat ship.

“As each Freedom-variant hull deploys, we seek out and incorporate fleet feedback and lessons learned to roll in capabilities for the new hulls,” said Joe DePietro, Lockheed Martin Vice President and general manager, Small Combatants and Ship Systems. “As a result, LCS-19 includes a solid-state radar, upgraded communications suite, increased self-defense capabilities and topside optimization, among other updates.”

Arriving Home in Mayport

Arriving Home in Mayport

The future USS ST LOUIS sailed into its home base of Mayport, Fla. on Friday, July 17 after a nearly one-month trip that started in a shipyard in Marinette, Wis.

The ship was built by defense contractor Lockheed Martin. A crew of 70 boarded the ship in early April to oversee the installation of equipment and to begin training. They began the sailaway to Mayport in June and travelled through the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River and along the Atlantic coastline.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the crew stayed mostly onboard the ship during the duration of the trip. There have been no positive tests for the virus.

The crew members were reunited and enthusiastically greeted by their families as they docked in Mayport. Some of the sailors were welcomed with signs and presented with flowers upon their arrival.

Mayport is the U.S. Navy’s east coast home for eight littoral combat ships, all named for cities: Billings, Detroit, Indianapolis, Little Rock, Milwaukee, Sioux City, St. Louis and Wichita. The future USS ST LOUIS is a mine-countermeasure ship that sails efficiently and at high speeds. Two rotating crews of 70 sailors will use up-to-date technology to hunt and sweep for mines in harbors and coastal straits.

The ship will be commissioned on Saturday, Aug. 8.

Lifelong Lessons from The Navy

PresentingsPonsorsU.S. Navy veteran and successful business owner reflects on lessons learned

This summer, in formal ceremonies in Pensacola, Fla., the U.S. Navy will commission and launch a new ship named for our community – the seventh USS St. Louis in American history. So what? you might wonder. What difference does that make to me? A lot more, in my view, than you might think.

Many people today know me through my role as a businessman who owns 20 McDonald’s restaurants in the St. Louis area. Many fewer know that one of the reasons I’ve become a successful businessman is the eight and one-half years I served in the U.S. Navy.

This summer, in formal ceremonies in Pensacola, Fla., the U.S. Navy will commission and launch a new ship named for our community – the seventh USS St. Louis in American history. So what? you might wonder. What difference does that make to me? A lot more, in my view, than you might think.

Many people today know me through my role as a businessman who owns 20 McDonald’s restaurants in the St. Louis area. Many fewer know that one of the reasons I’ve become a successful businessman is the eight and one-half years I served in the U.S. Navy.

I was lucky as a kid to have been exposed to many outstanding people, starting with my dad, James Williams, the first African-American mayor of East St. Louis, and my mom, Lillian Croom Williams, a teacher. I was influenced by many mentors such as Dr. Benjamin Davis, a dentist and McDonald’s franchisee himself. I also had the advantage of an excellent education.

But even with those advantages, the Navy had plenty to teach me. Part of it, of course, was the travel. The Navy takes you all over the world, providing you an invaluable education about other cultures and perspective on our own country.

But the Navy also instills values and character traits: Service to a greater good, a sense of concern and responsibility for one’s peers, discipline, preparation, respect, how to follow, how to lead. Day after day during my nearly decade-long tenure in uniform, all of these were drilled into me. I couldn’t help but absorb them.

All this was equally true, if not more so, for young men and women who hadn’t had the advantages I’d had. One of the great things about the Navy is that it will meet you wherever you are to work its magic.

And when I say magic, I am not using the word lightly. I left the Navy in 1995. Yet when one of the many friends I made in those years sent me a text message a few weeks ago, he addressed it to me as “Shipmate.” That tells you how deep and permanent the bond was that formed between us all those years ago.

Our city, our African-American community, and our nation all need those kinds of bonds more than ever. In these days of racial and political polarization, we need people who can see the humanity in others no matter what their views. The Navy teaches you to think and feel that way.

It also offers an education in the kinds of skills that are increasingly the ticket to a brighter economic future. Today’s Navy offers an education in the coding and other STEM skills (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math) that help recruits do their Navy jobs and prepare them for life after the Navy as well.

This is one of the greatest advantages that service in the Navy now offers, and all St. Louisans – including African-American St. Louisans, of course – have the opportunity of benefiting from it. The Navy is an engine of economic upward mobility.

Like all ships, USS St. Louis has a sponsor who is an active bridge between the namesake community and the ship’s crew and their families throughout the lifetime of the ship. The sponsor for USS St. Louis is Barbara Broadhurst Taylor, the daughter-in-law of the late Jack Taylor, founder of St. Louis-based Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and wife of Andy Taylor, the executive chairman of the company’s parent firm, Enterprise Holdings.

Mrs. Taylor is not just a figurehead in this role. She views it as one of the greatest honors of her life. Her father was a lieutenant general in the U.S. Air Force. Her father-in-law named his company after an aircraft carrier on which he served doing bombing runs in the Pacific in World War II. The military is in her blood.

She knows first-hand the sacrifices sailors and their families make every day to serve America and keep it safe. And she appreciates the transformative impact military service has in their lives as sailors and, later, as productive citizens and professionals. Her goal is creating lasting connections with the people of St. Louis and the ship’s crew – the crews, really, because there are two of them, each of about 70 men and women, who will alternate.

She aims to raise funds for academic scholarships for their continuing education, and for their children. And she wants the crew to feel our community’s support and friendship, and for St. Louisans to feel pride in them and their patriotic mission.

USS St. Louis is our ship. I’m doing all I can to support our crew and their families, because of what the Navy means to me. And I invite members of the African American community and all St. Louisans to join me. We all need to come together. We all need to realize: We are all shipmates.


James E. (“Jimmy”) Williams Jr. is founder and CEO of Estel Foods Inc., a privately held company owning McDonald’s restaurants in Missouri and Illinois, and an active board member and volunteer in numerous civic organizations here.

Sailaway from Marinette to Mayport

Future USS ST LOUIS begins Sailaway to its Home Port

The Navy’s newest and 19th littoral combat ship, the future USS ST LOUIS (LCS-19), departed from the Marinette Marine Corp. shipyard in Marinette, Wis. on Saturday, June 20 to begin its journey to the home port of Mayport, Fla.

The Sailaway is an important milestone in the life of the ship that signifies the end of the construction period and the beginning of preparation to perform its peace-keeping mission.

It culminates months of preparation. After the completion of successful sea acceptance trials earlier this year, a crew of 70 sailors moved onto an empty ship in early April and turned it into an operational warship and their future home at sea. The ship is now fully equipped and inspected, and the crew has trained as a team to become certified in damage control, search and rescue, engineering and navigation.

“USS ST LOUIS has some of the most experienced, talented and hard-working sailors in the U.S. Navy,” said Commander Kevin Hagan, the ship’s commanding officer. “We are proud to be part of this ship, its heritage and its future.”

The journey to Mayport will take approximately one month. The crew will be on watch and perform continuous testing, training and maintenance as the ship maneuvers its way through the Great Lakes, Wellington Canal, Saint Lawrence Seaway and the open ocean. Along the way the ship will make four scheduled stops, each ranging from a few days to a week, for refueling, provisions and additional technical and operational configurations.

The ship will be officially accepted as a unit of the operating forces of the U.S. Navy at a commissioning ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 8 in Mayport.

USS ST LOUIS (LCS-19) is the seventh U.S. Navy ship to carry the name of St. Louis. The ship flies the flags of the City of St. Louis, the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Blues. It is part of the U.S. Navy’s well-connected family of modern vessels that maneuver in shallow, coastal waters. Designed efficiently for speed and agility, the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) network counters threats of coastal mines, terrorism and stealth submarines.

Mast-Stepping Ceremony

Mast-Stepping Ceremony Held on April 14, 2020

The officers and crew of the future USS ST LOUIS (LCS-19) observed a time-honored Naval tradition by holding a mast-stepping ceremony aboard the ship in Marinette, Wisconsin. The tradition features the installation of several coins and personal mementos beneath the mast as a gesture to extend good luck and to underscore the character and heritage of the ship.

In observing social distancing guidelines, Barbara Broadhurst Taylor, the ship’s sponsor, participated in the ceremony via video. Barbara contributed treasured coins and ribbons from medals commemorating the distinguished military service of her father and father-in-law in World War II. Other mementos were contributed by the ship’s officers and crew, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, and the ship’s builder and designer.

Wherever USS ST LOUIS sails, we will be with her in spirit as she carries these mementos and our hearts.

Barbara Broadhurst Taylor, USS ST LOUIS Sponsor

Barbara Broadhurst Taylor

In one sense it was a pure accident that led to Barbara’s becoming the sponsor of USS ST LOUIS (LCS-19).  In another sense it was fate.

The accidental part was a phone call from James “Sandy” Winnefeld, then Captain of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, to her husband, Andy Taylor. Captain Winnefeld was trying to reach Andy because he thought he had served on USS ENTERPRISE in World War II.

“You’ve got the wrong Taylor,” Andy told him.  “That was my father, Jack.”

But the Captain and Andy got to talking, and the friendship that developed eventually extended to the two men’s wives. So when it came time to select a sponsor for the Navy’s newest littoral combat ship, USS ST LOUIS, Winnefeld thought he knew just the right name to suggest to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus for the traditionally female role.

It does, after all, add up.  Not only did Barbara’s father-in-law serve on USS ENTERPRISE and other ships as a decorated World War II Navy fighter pilot, but her late father, Edwin B. Broadhurst, had been a Lieutenant General in the Air Force. The military is in her blood.

And St. Louis is, too. Barbara was the first woman to serve as President of the Board of Commissioners of the Saint Louis Art Museum.  She serves on the board and executive committee of Forest Park Forever, an organization dedicated to restoring and maintaining one of the nation’s top urban parks.  She has served as a trustee for Webster University, Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School (MICDS), The Junior League of St. Louis and St. Louis Children’s Hospital Friends Board. Her family and the company Jack Taylor founded, Enterprise Rent-A-Car (he named it for the ship), are widely recognized in St. Louis as among the community’s greatest benefactors.

So when Secretary Mabus asked her whether she would be willing to serve as sponsor of USS ST LOUIS, Barbara didn’t hesitate.

“This is truly a great honor for me and I am thrilled to be the sponsor of USS ST LOUIS,” she said.  “I’ve had a lot of wonderful experiences in my life, and this ranks among one of the best.”

As sponsor, Barbara has already participated in three ceremonies revolving around milestones in the ship’s construction: the keel-laying, the mast-stepping, and the christening.  The keel-laying, at which a steel plaque bearing Barbara’s initials was welded into the hull, took place in 2017 in Marinette, Wis., and commemorated the beginning of the warship’s construction.  At the mast-stepping, marking the raising of the mast, she presented a kind of time capsule that was sealed into the ship, containing her father’s Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross medal and commemorative coins from USS ENTERPRISE and USS ESSEX that her father-in-law served on during WWII.  Then, in late 2019, came the christening, at which she smashed a bottle of bubbly against the ship’s bow – and then watched it tumble dramatically on its side into the Menominee River before bobbing seemingly miraculously back upright. (Littoral Combat Ships are among the few vessels that are “side-launched.”)

But in the climax of her role as sponsor, Barbara and the Commissioning Committee will be responsible for most of the events surrounding the ship’s commissioning, its formal launch into active service, slated for mid-2020 in Florida.  Although the Navy will preside over the commissioning itself, the Commissioning Committee will be responsible for organizing all the public events surrounding it. That means they are in charge of the various picnics, tailgate party, receptions, breakfasts and other gatherings for the crew and their families and well-wishers in the days preceding and following the commissioning. Given that the ship will operate with two crews of 70 each, those events will be attended by hundreds of people.

But as sponsor, Barbara is actually much more than a participant and in some cases supervisor of the various milestones marking the ship’s early development. Her role also calls for her to be a good luck charm and godmother of sorts for the ship and crew. And it enables her to be a kind of matchmaker between the crew and the city that gave the vessel its name.

Toward these larger ends, Barbara has already formed personal relationships with many members of the crew and their families and intends to develop more.  Having met some of them at the various ceremonies and through visits she helped organize for them to St. Louis in 2019 and 2020, she has been immensely impressed.

“They come from very different backgrounds,” she said.  “The diversity is remarkable.  Some of them are really young and yet they take on major responsibilities.  They are all very dedicated and they inspire me every day.”

Among the benefits Barbara wants to provide is a scholarship fund to assist crew members and their families obtain college and other advanced degrees; many in the crew, she notes, have technical skills for which they lack corresponding formal degrees that could prove valuable to them, in or out of the Navy.

She also wants the crew to be proud of their association with St. Louis and vice-versa.  Last summer she helped introduce more than a dozen crew members to some of St. Louis’s most iconic attractions, such as the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Muny Opera, St. Louis Blues hockey and the baseball Cardinals, where two of them got to throw out a ceremonial first pitch.  She also wants as many St. Louisans as possible to take pride in the fact that a ship bearing their city’s name is helping to defend the nation.  “Her” ship, she notes, is the seventh USS ST LOUIS in a history that goes back to 1828, and which includes the “Lucky Lou,” a light cruiser that survived Pearl Harbor and went on to earn 11 battle stars during WW II.  That’s a rich history, with which more St. Louisans should be acquainted.

This is how sincere Barbara is about her commitment: She’s made a succession plan.  After she’s gone, daughters Patty Taylor and Chrissy Broughton will pick up the mantle. They have already been designated as the ship’s maid and matron of honor.

USS ST LOUIS, it seems, is going to be well taken care of for a long, long time.