The Caledonia bagpipers were on the Central Wharf Monday for the official reception to the harbor for LCS-9, with the name "Little Rock" just barely visible on the stern. The U.S. Navy's newest ship is finally docked at Canalside, readying for a first-of-its-type commissioning, next to its much larger predecessor.
As speakers welcomed the ship and its crew, a U.S. Coast Guard boat patrolled the Buffalo River alongside the ship, with Canalside under tight security.
Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation President Tom Dee welcomed the ship and crew on behalf of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
"The commissioning of the Little Rock will be a once-in-a-lifetime moment that will bring thousands of people to Buffalo's beautiful, re-imagined, accessible waterfront," Dee said. "Buffalo's rich maritime history is recognized every day here at Canalside. In addition to the magnificent Navy museum, Canalside also promotes history, tourism by water and on the shore."
Todd Peters, commander of the future Little Rock, said his crew has been learning to run the ship, as it moved from the shipyard in Wisconsin to the open sea, and eventually to what will be its base in Florida.
"The crew really has done an amazing job, 60 days later, bringing the ship to Buffalo, fully operational and ready to join the fleet," Peters said. "To get here, they have gone through a multitude of certifications and training events and they've stood watch on the ship in three-section duty, outside in the elements, to protect the ship. It has been amazing, one of the most absolute highlights of my career."
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn, a retired naval officer and JAG officer, watched the new ship arrive.
"I was standing on the pier here this morning, watching the ship come in and I go back to the first time when I saw my ship that I served on back in 1989, the USS Cleveland in San Diego, CA," Flynn said. "I remember sitting on the pier watching that ship come in and me walking up the gangplank onto that ship and seeing this here today brought back some great memories."
Flynn also suggested to crew members that they behave themselves while in town or they will meet him as a prosecutor.