USS Tulsa carrying on a proud tradition

With her name proudly emblazoned on the stern, it's natural to wonder what the USS Tulsa will look like when it's finally ready. But you don't have to daydream a second more as the USS Giffords sails by in Mobile, Alabama. It's identical to the USS Tulsa, which is very close to completion and set for christening Saturday morning.

"We're almost 11 percent out from being totally complete," said Wesley Fiveash, of Austal.

Fiveash is the USS Tulsa project manager and he gave Channel 8 the nickel tour of a $350 million ship.

"The ship is 418 feet long and it's 104 feet wide," he said.

Impressive no doubt, but if we're going to kick the tires it's hard to outdo a classic. The USS Alabama is just down the road and 75 years away from the T-town.

"The Alabama's a memorial to the past but the USS Tulsa is the future," said retired Major General Janet Cobb, director of the memorial that celebrates the Navy of yesteryear while embracing the ships of today.

"They're lighter they're faster, they're still lethal, but just in a different way. There's no armament on a littoral that could match the 16-inch gun of the Alabama, but it's a different day and time and the world has changed," she said.

One major change is propulsion. The Alabama has four 18-ton propellers but the Tulsa has four of something else.

"We call them water jets. Two are diesel driven and two are jet propulsion. Basically, like a giant jet ski," said Fiveash.

"We say we can't catch you guys, but you couldn't sink us," said Cobb.

The past and present; Two ships, two eras, one mission, protect the nation.

The USS Tulsa is being christened Saturday at 10 a.m. in Mobile with Mayor G.T. Bynum in attendance.

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