USS Independence sails into St. Petersburg this morning

Tickets for ship tours were distributed yesterday

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The USS Independence sailed into the port of St. Petersburg this morning.

Officials believe this is the first naval warship to visit St. Petersburg. "Independence is one of the newest and most unique ships in the fleet and I believe the people of St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay area will find it to be of great interest," says Congressman bill Young.

The ship will be at the port through Labor Day.

Unfortunately, access to the ship is limited. Unless you were one of the lucky ones to pick up a free ticket yesterday at the Mahaffey Theater, you will have to view the ship from a distance

Officials says you can probably catch a glimpse of the USS Independence as it enters local waters near the Sunshine Skyway on Friday. The Navy trimaran is expected to dock at 10 a.m. Friday at the Port.

The best areas for viewing the USS Independence while it makes its way to the Port of St. Petersburg are Bay Vista Park, 7000 Fourth St. S.; from the St. Petersburg Pier, 800 Second Ave. N.E.; Lassing Park, 18th Ave. S. or 22nd Ave. S.; Poynter Park, located at 1000 Third St. S. via 11th Ave. S.; or the city's panoramic webcam (Camera 1) at www.stpete.org/webcam.

Independence was commissioned by the Navy in January 2010 and is the lead ship of the tri-hull variant of the new class of Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) being produced for the Navy.

The ship is 418 feet long and 103 feet wide. It has an extremely shallow draft of only 14 feet and can cruise at 40 knots per hour, both ideal for operating in the world's littorals.

The ship is designed to operate with a much smaller crew than older Navy ships, in this case 40 Sailors and Officers. It is designed to operate with one of three interchangeable mission modules, anti-submarine warfare, mine countermeasures, or surface warfare, and its supporting crew and aircraft.

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