Beaumont Enterprise: USS Fort Worth opens for public tours
Public tours are scheduled this week aboard the USS Fort Worth, which arrived in Galveston Monday in preparation for its commissioning on Saturday.
The ship is the second in the U.S. Navy's Freedom-variant of littoral combat ships designed to fight in close-to-shore operations, Navy officials said.
"Fort Worth is an innovative combatant ship designed to operate quickly in shallow water environments to counter challenging threats in coastal regions, specifically mines and fast surface craft," Navy spokesman Lt. Rick Chernitzer said via email. "She is capable of deterring hostility in troubled waters, maintaining a forward presence, and projecting power while maintaining sea control."
The ship will be open for public tours from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, with the last tour beginning at 3:30 p.m. Guests are asked to wear comfortable, closed-toed shoes and to limit items carried on board. All visitors will go through security screening.
"We recommend that they don't bring any backpacks or purses along," Chernitzer said. "All will have to be searched ahead of time."
The tours will take place at Pier 21, at 21st Street and Harborside Drive.
The ship departed Aug. 7 from the Marinette Marine Corp. shipyard in Marinette, Wis., to begin its journey to Galveston, where it will be formally commissioned at 10 a.m. Saturday. The Navy plans to stream the ceremony live on www.navy.mil.
Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, the ship's sponsor, will give the command to "man our ship and bring her to life" during the ceremony, which will include a contingent from Fort Worth.
"When you have a ship named after you, it's just a very special thing," Granger said in a statement released by Lockheed Martin, which helped build the vessel. "When the Secretary of the Navy said we are considering this, we had to prove to the Secretary of the Navy that we would honor the ship and take care of the ship and her crew."
Galveston is gearing up for the festivities, city officials said.
"The citizens of Galveston are honored that Rep. Kay Granger chose our island to host this historic event," Mayor Lewis Rosen said in an email. "We proudly welcome the officers, crew members, and dignitaries celebrating the Fort Worth, and look forward to sharing Galveston, an island of unique accomplishment and historic 'firsts' in the state of Texas."
The USS Fort Worth is 390 feet long and can travel more than 40 knots. Unlike older warships which carry crews of more than 200, the Fort Worth can operate with a crew as small as 40.
After the commissioning, the Forth Worth will proceed to its home port in San Diego.