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2 years ago

Navy’s next Littoral Combat Ship will be named USS Mobile

USS Independence (Photo: U.S. Navy, Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class Nicholas Kontodiakos)
USS Independence (Photo: U.S. Navy, Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class Nicholas Kontodiakos)

WASHINGTON — Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL1) on Thursday announced that a future Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) will be named after the City of Mobile.

“It is such an honor for a future Littoral Combat Ship to be named after the City of Mobile,” Byrne said in a statement. “Our area takes such pride in building these fine ships, just the latest vessel in Mobile’s long history of shipbuilding. I know the spirit and patriotism of Mobile will be encapsulated in this ship.”

Roughly 4,000 Alabamians in Austal USA’s Mobile facility are involved in building the LCS, a class of vessels used in operations close to shore (the littoral zone). They have been compared to corvettes, built to swiftly move in fights with other vessels, as well as to hunt and destroy enemy submarines and mines.

“The LCS is the perfect vessel to fulfill multiple missions including surface warfare, mine counter-measure warfare, and anti-submarine warfare,” explained Rep. Byrne.

The congressman expressed appreciation for Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who has testified that the his branch of the armed services requires 52 littoral combat ships, a number determined by an assessment performed in 2014.

“I appreciate Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus for working with us to make this possible, and I look forward to one day standing in the Mobile waterfront to christen and commission this fine ship,” he said.

The announcement of the USS Mobile came from the Secretary of the Navy today during a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Another LCS will be named after the City of Marinette, Wisconsin, where the Freedom-variant of the LCS is built.

The LCS program has been the subject of intense debate inside the Pentagon, where its detractors include the Obama administration’s Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.

The internal sparring has spilled over into the public in an unusual way and resulted in what defense budget expert Mackenzie Eaglen describes as “a semi-open war” between Secretary of Defense Carter and Secretary of the Navy Mabus.

Politico explains:

Mabus and other Navy leaders used an annual military symposium [in January] to offer a forceful defense of the littoral combat ship, the same warship that Carter wants to pare back to allow more spending on destroyers, munitions, submarine upgrades, and the F-35 and F-18 fighter jets.

Mabus was also unabashed about his emphasis on building up the overall number of ships — in sharp contrast to Carter, who has admonished the Navy secretary for making “quantity” a higher priority than “lethality.”

The Navy’s director of surface warfare, Rear Adm. Peter Fanta, even employed a mocking tone toward the littoral combat ship’s critics, while pleading for an audience full of industry executives to help him defend the program.

“Yes, there are still naysayers,” Fanta said at the symposium. “You know what a lot of those naysayers’ problems are? ‘You didn’t write the stack of reports that was required to build this ship.’ Aww.”

Alabama’s U.S. senators have frequently defended the ship-building program from attempts by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain to scale it back.

Senator McCain has decried the LCS program as “shameful” on the Senate floor and has constantly fought for the Pentagon to cut it, in spite of Navy leadership insisting they need it.

McCain was pleased late last year when the Obama administration’s efforts to shrink the military hit the LCS program. Secretary Carter directed the Navy to slash its previous order of ships by twelve and reduce its annual orders by tho-thirds.

The Navy’s stated goal for years has been to build up its capacity to 308 ships. There are currently 273 ships in the fleet, and Navy advocates on Capitol Hill and in the Pentagon argue that cutting the LCS procurement will make the Navy’s capacity goal impossible to achieve.

Alabama senators have repeatedly fought off McCain’s attempts to cut the LCS before, and they’re vowing to continue going forward.

Those fights will take place on another day, however, Thursday was all about the future USS Mobile.

2 hours ago

A second former Prattville police officer sentenced for theft

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Friday announced that former Prattville police officer John Wayne McDaniel Jr. has been sentenced for conspiracy to commit burglary, third-degree theft, second-degree theft of prescription medicine and criminal impersonation of a police officer.

McDaniel was sentenced in Autauga County Circuit Court to ten years for each count, with the sentences being split for him to serve three years in community corrections rather than prison. The sentences will run concurrently.

“It is always serious and a sad betrayal of the public’s trust when a law enforcement officer breaks the law he has sworn to uphold,” said Marshall.

He continued, “In this case, the court considered that McDaniel acknowledged his wrongdoing, cooperated in the investigation, and assisted with information for the prosecution of others in related crimes. His sentence takes this into account, yet imposes strong controls to invoke his prison sentence if he fails to abide by the strict standards of the community corrections program.”

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In the community corrections program, defendants may serve their time outside of prison or jail but are held to stringent conditions and supervision, and upon any failure to comply are subject to immediately being sent to jail or prison.

McDaniel’s cooperation was an integral factor in the successful prosecution of another former Prattville police officer, Leon Todd Townson, who was sentenced on Monday to serve ten years in prison for first-degree insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary and and three years for third-degree burglary. Townson’s sentences run concurrently.

McDaniel and Townson were both originally charged with breaking into a home in 2015, and Townson was also charged in 2017 with defrauding an insurance agency by filing a claim worth $190,000 using false information.

Marshall commended Assistant Attorney General John Kachelman of the office’s Criminal Trials Division for his exemplary work in bringing these cases to a successful conclusion. The Attorney General also applauded Special Agents of his Investigations Division and thanked the Prattville Police Department for their crucial role in the investigation and prosecution of the two cases.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

77-year-old identical twin sisters ‘serving up smiles’ at Alabama McDonald’s

A pair of 77-year-old identical twin sisters working at a Shelby County McDonald’s restaurant has customers saying, “I’m lovin’ it.”

Maryann Byrne and Alice Moore, the twins, are so popular that a customer called WBRC urging them to do a story about the sisters, who work at the location on Valleydale Road and the corner of Caldwell Mill Road.

Byrne and Moore do every task – from taking customers’ orders, to preparing food and pouring piping-hot cups of coffee – with genuine smiles that are contagious to co-workers and customers alike.

“Those two ladies are a breath of fresh air for all the people who come in here,” customer Rod Peeks told WBRC. “They’re just amazing.”

The sisters say it all comes down to them loving to serve others and caring about the people they interact with.

“The customers are gorgeous, they really are,” said Byrne. “They’re like your family members.”

“We like to make people happy. We like to please people. God made them and we need to please them,” added Moore.

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The story gets even better. The sisters get to work with another family member, as Moore’s daughter is the general manager of the restaurant.

“They’re my superstars and I love them to pieces. Please come in and see them,” Barbara Gibbs said about her mom and aunt.

Byrne calls her sister “the twin queen,” because Moore has a set of twins and her daughter Maria, the manager, gave birth to twin boys.

Watch the entire story below:

WBRC FOX6 News – Birmingham, AL

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

Jefferson State Community College gets grant to improve biomedical training program

Gov. Kay Ivey has awarded Jefferson State Community College $220,817 to upgrade a program that trains students for jobs in the medical industry.

The grant, provided to the state by the Appalachian Regional Commission, will be used to purchase equipment, furniture and supplies to upgrade classroom and laboratory space for the college’s biomedical training program. The program trains students as biomedical equipment technicians in both manufacturing and healthcare.

“My administration has championed job growth in Alabama, and programs like this ensure that our workforce is trained and ready for those jobs,” Ivey said in a press release. “I am pleased that this ARC funding is helping to provide better opportunities for Alabama workers.”

Thirty-seven Alabama counties are members of the Appalachian Regional Commission and eligible for grant funds.

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4 hours ago

Congratulations to all of Alabama’s Congressional delegation on their re-elections

[WRITER’S NOTE: Before I get started, let me just short-circuit 90 percent of the response to what I am about to say is going to get: No, fivethirtyeight.com was not totally wrong about the presidential election. They said Hillary Clinton was going to win the popular vote, and she did.

If you are an elected Congressman from Alabama, you are good to go in November, according to FiveThirtyEight.

The least likely winner is Congresswoman Martha Roby, who is still expected to brutalize her opponent.

This should surprise absolutely no one. Alabama is still a red state. The only blue district in the state is a gerrymandered mess that includes Birmingham and Montgomery, so Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham) didn’t even draw an opponent.

The bigger story from fivethirtyeight.com is that their analysis shows two things:

1. Republicans are projected to lose, but it’s not impossible (this is better than the chance they gave Trump)

2. There are far more Solid D (188) seats than Solid R (146) seats, that means more seats for Republicans to defend, and that means less money for each one.

This could be a tough year for Republicans, but all is not lost yet.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a conservative talk show  from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

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5 hours ago

See where Alabama schools rank in Princeton Review’s list of best colleges

The Princeton Review has released their trademark list of the “Best 384 Colleges” for 2019 and three Alabama schools made the cut.

To compile their latest edition, which is the 27th annual, the Princeton Review interviewed 138,000 students and examined the relevant data on the nation’s colleges.

See which Alabama institutions are on the list, and why, below:

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(Note that the following sub-rankings are only done for top 20 schools in each category)

Auburn University

Best Athletic Facilities – #2
Future Rotarians and DAR – #14
Happiest Students – #19
Students Pack the Stadiums – #5
Their Students Love These Colleges – #18
Town-Gown Relations are Great – #7

Academics, on a scale of 1-99: 75

Read more about Auburn’s inclusion here.

The University of Alabama

Best Athletic Facilities – #1
Best College Dorms – #13
Best-Run Colleges – #11
Lots of Greek Life – #5
Most Active Student Governments – #8

Academics, on a scale of 1-99: 77

Read more about UA’s inclusion here.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham

UAB’s post-graduate programs really push it over the top as a premier high-education institution.

The Princeton Review highlighted UAB by saying, “At the University of Alabama at Birmingham, professors and administrators ‘care about you.'” They also boast a relatively low student-to-faculty ratio.

Academics, on a scale of 1-99: 67

Read more about UAB’s inclusion here.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn