GALVESTON (CBS 11 NEWS) – People waited in line on a pier in bright Gulf Coast sunshine for hours Thursday to get a tour of a unique visitor to Galveston.
“I’m going to take some pictures, post it on Facebook and tell everyone about it because I didn’t know there was a ship named Fort Worth,” said Sherri Aaron, a Fort Worth resident.
The US Navy’s newest warship, the USS Fort Worth, was the star in a city full of tourist attractions on September 20. The ship is in Texas waters to be commissioned in ceremonies Saturday, September 22.
The Fort Worth, named after the city, is longer than a football field.
Her 57mm gun can fire 220 round a minute. The cavernous mission deck is the size of a school gymnasium. The Fort Worth can launch special forces and remote control aircraft and submarines. It can operate in shallow waters or deep seas hunting submarines, mines or even fast moving attack boats, since she can go from zero to 50 miles an hour in just 90 seconds.
“There’s some nations that like to take a lot of their small boats and bring them as a group out against you because there are a lot of different targets to go after at once and they’re all very, very fast,” said Cmdr. Randy Blankenship who oversees one of two crews who will rotate assignments on the ship to keep her on the water as much as possible. “We can run with them. And we can make their day extremely ugly.”
The ship uses high tech controls. In the past, a vessel this size needed 200 crew members. The Fort Worth needs just 40.
The ship’s crew is wearing Molly pins and they’re starting to earn about the city that is their ship’s namesake.
“Every time I come back they say, ‘Captain it can’t be as good as you say!” said Cmdr. Warren Cupps, the second commanding officer of the USS Fort Worth. “And I say, ‘It is.’ And I’ve taken a few of my sailors and they all agree. It’s a great time in Fort Worth.”
And you can imagine the thrill a sailor from North Texas has serving aboard her.
“It was kind of cool to get attached to this ship,” said SPC Tomas Garcia who grew up in the Fort Worth area and is proud of his assignment to the ship. “Swagging around a little? Yeah. For sure!”
The ship sails for its new home in San Diego next week.
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