DETROIT (WJBK) - The city watched in awe as a $440 million naval vessel pulled up to the GM Riverwalk on Friday. The USS Detroit had arrived in its namesake city.
If you've been downtown this week along the riverfront, there's no missing the big ship. It will be docked along the riverfront near the Renaissance Center until its commissioning ceremony this weekend, and then it will sail away to Windsor. It will be the first time a US warship has visited a foreign nation as its inaugural international port of call.
Meantime, a busy week of events is planned around the ship. Tours are going on all week, and most are private tours for veterans and military -- but the ship will be open to the public for a limited time on one day only, Wednesday, October 19.
Public tours will be given from 1-5 p.m. You cannot sign up in advance and tours are given on a first-come, first-serve basis, so plan to arrive early and wait in line. You're also asked to wear comfortable walking shoes.
Here's some other details about the tours, from www.ussdetroitlcs7.com:
- You will need a picture ID and cannot carry bags on board the ship larger than 12”x12”x6”. All bags will be run through a security check. No weapons or alcohol are allowed.
- Unfortunately, due to safety issues, the ship cannot accommodate wheelchairs or walker-type devices. The USS Detroit has uneven surfaces which must be navigated during the tour.
- Groups of 15-20, max, every 15 minutes.
- Cameras are allowed.
- Tours will be cut off at 5pm, at the discretion of the Captain and Crew, even if you are already in line at that time. The crew must prepare for nighttime activities and commitments.
The commissioning ceremony is Saturday at 11 a.m. This event is full, however, at 4,000 attendees, and all public seats are allocated. Tickets, which were free, are no longer available.
MORE ABOUT THE USS DETROIT
The Freedom-class ship is part of a new breed of naval vessel, which is designed to work in shallow waters and operate with speed and agility. It's created to be quickly modified to take on different missions.
The idea for the Navy vessel first came about after the 9/11 attacks, when the U.S. Navy held a design competition for an innovative kind of focused-mission ship.
Ben Capuco, chief naval architect with Gibbs & Cox Inc., the firm that designed the ship, said previous Navy ships have carried the Detroit name but that none have moved like the new vessel.
"This is a very unique vessel in terms of its combination of speed, flexibility and maneuverability," he said.
However critics believe the vessel might not be what the Navy needs at the moment due to the changing environment; there's concern for its "survivability" in combat.
The makeup and design relies on avoiding fire more than sustaining it. The weaponry includes a 57mm deck gun, missile system and preventatives that will help deflect attack.
"The Navy's execution of the program has been a matter of congressional oversight attention for several years," said Ronald O'Rourke, an independent specialist in Naval affairs, in a combat ship report.
The Associated Press contributed to this report