The future USS Little Rock LCS-9 has been a special guest of honor along Buffalo's waterfront since arriving Dec. 4. The highly-anticipated and historic commissioning ceremony will be held on Saturday morning. On Thursday, the crew of the future Little Rock put in a busy day, both on and off the ship.
The crew of the soon-to-be-commissioned ship welcomed several groups for tours, including one comprised of Buffalo and Rochester news media. CDR Todd Peters, the future Little Rock's commanding officer, offered opening remarks during which he explained the ship's advantages over older counterparts. As a littoral combat ship, it can operate in waters closer to shore, waters that may be too shallow for others.
"This ship is like a Ferrari," Peters said. "It's extremely fast. We can accelerate, decelerate, it's very agile and maneuverable. Speed is an asset in terms of being able to maneuver and avoid danger as we go or just to get to places quickly."
The ship can travel in excess of 45 knots, or about 51 miles per hour.
Peters further explained that the ship may be modified in short time, about two to four days, to prepare it for one of the three missions for which it is currently designed: anti-mine, anti-submarine and surface warfare.
"We can use anybody's imagination to determine what we could really do as time goes by, whereas other ships are built specifically. If you want to change equipment, it's a lot more disruptive. You have to cut things in and out and add to the ship. We have a lot of space we can use pretty much any way that we want to," Peters said.
Several crew members visited Oishei Children's Hospital Thursday and some were guests of honor at two receptions hosted in downtown Buffalo late Thursday. Earlier in the week, crew members were invited guests at the Buffalo Sabres' home game at KeyBank Center.
The future USS Little Rock, meanwhile, hosted some other special guests Thursday. Several local recruits stood on the flight deck and participated in their enlistment ceremonies, confirming their commitments to various branches of the military.
Among them was Daniel Bryant of West Seneca, who was among the Marines' new recruits. He recognized the unique circumstances for his ceremony.
"It's kind of symbolic, having all the new recruits swear in to enlist as we commission the ship," Bryant said. "It kind of goes hand in hand."
He joined his fellow enlistees on a tour of the ship shortly after their ceremony.
Thousands of people are expected to arrive at Canalside, and brave the cold weather, to witness the first-ever commissioning of a naval vessel immediately next to its decommissioned counterpart.