New USS Little Rock arriving in New York earlier than expected
By LOU MICHEL | The Buffalo News, N.Y. | Published: November 29, 2017
BUFFALO, N.Y. (Tribune News Service) — The new USS Little Rock is scheduled to arrive at Canalside at 9 a.m. Monday instead of Friday of next week.
"The Navy is eager to get the ship underway, and we in the commissioning committee are delighted that the ship will be with us for a longer time than originally anticipated," said Maurice L. "Moe" Naylon III, chairman of the USS Little Rock Commissioning Committee.
The early arrival has to do with "the needs of the Navy," Naylon said.
But the date of the commissioning ceremony marking the official entry of the new Little Rock into the Navy will not change. That is scheduled for 11 a.m. Dec. 16 and is expected to draw as many as 9,000 spectators to Canalside.
The ship is traveling across the Great Lakes from Marinette, Wis., where it was built at a shipyard beside the Menominee River.
The Little Rock's presence will add greater significance to the ceremony recognizing the 76th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Naylon said.
That ceremony is set for 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 7, at the Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park at Canalside.
"What an honor it will be to have an operating ship of the Navy in our port as we mark that solemn occasion, which is also known as the 'Day of Infamy,' " Naylon said in recalling the speech given by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in seeking a declaration of war from Congress.
Because of the sooner-than-expected arrival, Naylon said the commissioning committee is now looking over its schedule of events and will be announcing revisions.
John Branning, superintendent of ships at the Naval and Military Park, said he has been in contact with ship officials and is making arrangements for the pier to be ready ahead of time.
"I have told them we will assist in whatever functions are necessary," Branning said, explaining that bollards will be installed and assistance provided in helping the crew moor the ship.
The commissioning of the $440 million Little Rock, known as LCS9, represents the first time in the Navy's 242-year history that a new ship is being commissioned adjacent to its decommissioned namesake.
The old Little Rock is anchored at the Naval and Military Park and is one of the park's main attractions.