ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Update: No more free tickets remain for this weekend's USS Independence tour.
Tickets were handed out from the Mahaffey Theater Box Office beginning at noon today, with all tickets distributed to the public in less than an hour.
The U.S. Navy is bringing one of its newest and most unique ships to St. Petersburg for the Labor Day holiday weekend.
The USS Independence will dock at the Port of St. Petersburg on Friday. It is believed to be the first naval warship to visit the city. The ship will remain in port until departing early Tuesday morning.
The public is invited to take a free tour of the Independence Saturday through Monday.
Tours are timed so no more than 150 people are on board the ship per hour.
Due to safety concerns no one under the age of 8 will be permitted on the tours. People will mobility issues or health problems are encouraged not to take part as the tour includes steep stairs and some non-air conditioned spaces.
Tickets for the tour will be handed out at the Mahaffey Theater Box Office on Thursday and Friday from noon to 6:00 p.m. Tickets will be available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis, while supplies last. There will be a limit of four tickets per person.
Group and organizations of 25 or more should request tickets for Saturday's organization tours by calling (727) 893-7465.
Tours of the 418-foot vessel will be conducted for organizations on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and the general public on Sunday from 8:30 to 3:30 p.m. and Monday from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Alcohol, controlled substances, weapons of any kind, and large bags are prohibited. You will not be allowed to wear high heels, sandals, flip-flops or shower shoes on the tour as a safety precaution.
You are encouraged to bring cameras with you on the tour. Nearly all areas of the ship are able to be photographed. Tour guides will specify where taking photographs is prohibited.
The USS Independence (LCS 2) is the first in the Navy's Independence class of littoral combat ships. It was commissioned on January 16, 2010.
The ship can travel more than 40 knots (46 mph). It only takes 40 sailors and officers to operate the Independence.
It was designed to operate with one of three easily interchangeable mission modules: anti-submarine warfare, mine countermeasures, or surface warfare.
For more information on the Independence, click here .