ST. PETERSBURG, FL
-- The United States Navy has approved a request by U.S. Rep. C. W. Bill Young for the city of St. Petersburg, Florida to host a port visit this Labor Day weekend by USS Independence (LCS 2).
"Independence is one of the newest and most unique ships in the fleet and I believe the people of St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay area will find it to be of great interest," Young said. "To my knowledge, this will be the first time the Port of St. Petersburg will have hosted a visit by a U.S. Navy warship."
Independence was commissioned by the Navy in January 2010 and is the lead ship of the tri-hull variant of the new class of Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) being produced for the Navy. The ship is 418 feet long and 103 feet wide. It has an extremely shallow draft of only 14 feet and can cruise at 40 knots per hour, both ideal for operating in the world's littorals. The ship is designed to operate with a much smaller crew than older Navy ships, in this case 40 Sailors and Officers. It is designed to operate with one of three interchangeable mission modules, anti-submarine warfare, mine countermeasures, or surface warfare, and its supporting crew and aircraft.
LCS is a 55-ship program that will fill a critical warfighting gap identified by the Navy to patrol and secure the littorals and sea lanes of choke points around the world.
"This would be a historic visit and a great opportunity to showcase one of our Navy's newest warships and her crew to the citizens of St. Petersburg," Admiral Gary Roughead, the Chief of Naval Operations, said to Young in a letter confirming Independence's visit. "The LCS is uniquely designed to win against 21st century threats in coastal waters posed by increasingly capable submarines, mines, and surface threats."
The ship will be open during Labor Day weekend for tours by the public. More details about the ship's visit to St. Petersburg, its schedule and tour information will be available in the coming days via the ship's Web site www.public.navy.mil/surfor/lcs2/.
"The people of our area are extremely proud and appreciative of the men and women who serve our nation in uniform," Young said. "And I know our community will welcome the crew of USS Independence with open arms and will show them all the great things that St. Petersburg has to offer."
Mayor Bill Foster said, "St. Petersburg is extremely honored to welcome the USS Independence and the proud men and women who serve our country to our city. I encourage all residents to visit the ship while it's in Port, welcome the crew and take the opportunity to see a ship that represents the future of the U.S. Navy."