Bristol will once again welcome a United States Navy ship off its shore this Fourth of July weekend, and this year it’s one of the Navy’s newest.
The USS Arlington is a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship, the third in the Navy named after Arlington, Va. It is named in commemoration of the terrorist attack on the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, that killed nearly 200 people. Steel taken from the Pentagon is on display inside the ship.
The ship is expected to sail into Bristol on July 1, according to General Chairwoman Donna Falcoa, but the Navy won’t give a specific itinerary for security reasons. The ship will be open for tours. The ship will be open to tours Sunday, July 3, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those wishing to visit the ship this weekend can board at the Coast Guard station at Thames and Constitution streets between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. There is no charge for the tours, but visitors should anticipate a 20-30 minute boat ride to reach the ship. The last transport boat leaves the Coast Guard pier at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Commissioned April 6, 2013, the Arlington has sailed extensively throughout the Atlantic and Middle East. The ship recently returned from a seven-month deployment in that region, with stops in Bahrain, Omar, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates.
Built by Northrup Grumman Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., the Annapolis measures 684 feet long, with a beam of 105 feet. It has a top speed of 22 knots, can transport up to 14 fighting vehicles, and its deck can accommodate helicopters of all sizes.
It carries a crew of 28 officers, 332 enlisted Navy personnel, and a Marine Detachment of 68 officers and 633 enlisted (can be expanded to 800 if necessary). It is armed with two Bushmaster II 30mm Close In Guns, and two Rolling Airframe Missile Launchers.
The ship is under the command of Capt. Sean R. Bailey, a native of Kansas who began his Navy career as a fighter pilot. He has flown more than 3,700 hours in the F-14 and F/A-18F and has logged more than 900 carrier landings.
“Arlington is proud to be closed to represent the Navy during the Bristol Independence Day celebration,” Capt. Bailey said in a release. “It is truly an honor to participate in such a storied event. The officers and crew are excited about enjoying the atmosphere and hospitality that Bristol is famous for.”