BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Buffalo Police keep watch over the USS Little Rock LCS 9 during its first night at Canalside.
“It’s an active duty war ship so Canalside will be a secure area,” said Dan Mecca, vice chairman of the Commissioning Committee.
It’s docked feet away from the original USS Little Rock, stationed at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park.
Mecca told News 4 people are encouraged to visit the waterfront to take pictures but no one will be able to drive through Canalside.
Visitors will have to enter the area at Marine Dr. and Hannover St., where there will be metal detectors. Bags will also be searched.
“No umbrellas, no weapons, even if you are licensed to carry you can’t bring your weapons in,” said Mecca. “Duffel bags, backpacks those are kind of discouraged.”
Buffalo and NFTA Transit Police have been working with federal and state partners, including the Coast Guard, to make sure nothing happens to this Navy vessel and its crew.
The ship arrived around 10 a.m. Monday morning from Marinette, Wisconsin where the littoral combat ship (LCS) was built.
These ships are the fastest in the Navy’s fleet.
“It’s designed to go in shallower waters where a normal ship would not go,” said Mecca. “It looks very modern and high tech. You’ll notice there’s a large flight deck on the back of it that can accommodate helicopters and other aircraft.”
At a press conference Monday afternoon, Commanding Officer Todd Peters said his crew is looking forward to meeting the Buffalo community.
“We could not be happier to be here,” said Peters. “This marks the completion of two years of very hard work by the entire crew.”
The Commissioning Committee is giving them a warm welcome.
“We’re really looking forward to proving we are the city of good neighbors,” said William Shephard, the co-leader of the special events action team.
He said they’ve organized events for the crew, including everything from Bills and Sabres games, to visiting the VA hospitals in Buffalo and Batavia.
The public is invited to meet the crew at an Army-Navy game watch party on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Riverworks.
Next week, Shephard said dignitaries from will arrive from Washington ahead of the commissioning on December 16th. This will be the first time in Naval history a warship will be commissioned next to its namesake.
“It’s going to be quite a celebration,” said Shephard. “It’s going to be something that I think the City of Buffalo is going to be able to look back on with great pride.”
Tours of the ship will be hard to come by. People interested need to write a heartfelt letter to Commissioning Chair Maurice Naylon, firstname.lastname@example.org.