BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Wednesday’s sendoff for new USS Little Rock came with a lot less fanfare than Saturday’s commissioning. Only a handful of people watched as the new Navy warship gracefully glided away from Canalside.
Perhaps no one was more excited than the chair of the Commissioning Committee for the LCS 9, Maurice L Naylon III. “All of the sudden our waterfront looks a little empty, but it’s been a wonderful 17 day celebration! I think people in Buffalo now know what a historic and national event this was,” Naylon noted.
Today the ship started what’s expected to be a three-week journey to its home port in Mayport, Florida. The warship will travel across the Welland Canal, through the St. Lawrence Seaway and eventually into the Atlantic.
“I’m so pleased with all my fellow Buffalonians because they rose up. They were generous. They were gracious. A gentleman told me this morning that Commander [Todd] Peters said that they had never been treated so warmly and received such warm hospitality,” Naylon said, beaming with pride.
After a final water canon salute from the Edward M. Cotter fireboat, the ship took off. Commander Todd Peters says he’s proud of his core crew of 54 sailors and a special detachment that adds another 22 sailors. “A lot of times we’ll work in support of other ships, and they’ll work in support of us. We have some capabilities that we can offer that they don’t normally have with them on the high seas,” he explained.
The commander says he’s proud of how quickly the crew has adjusted to the new ship that’s designed to operate in more shallow waters closer to the coast. “It’s amazing to see how they’ve been able to take the ship and make it their own and to operate it. It’s been extremely rewarding for me to see them perform and they’re amazing guys,” Commander Peters said.