KETCHIKAN, Alaska — One of the U.S. Navy’s newest class of warships has docked at an Alaska port for a rare visit.
The 610-foot long warship launched in October 2013 and based in San Diego was scheduled to be open for public tours Sunday in the southern Alaska city, officials said.
Steve Corporon, Ketchikan's port and harbors director, said bigger fenders were needed to make sure the ship would fit without damaging the vessel or the dock.
Navy Cmdr. Brandon Raile said the last Navy visit to Ketchikan was the amphibious transport dock Ogden in 2005, while the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer O’Kane stopped in Juneau nearly 300 miles (about 483 kilometers) further north in May 2017.
(Navy Times note: The guided-missile destroyer Shoup also visited Ketchikan from June 20-23, 2007).
The time gap and strategic reasons were behind the Alaska stop, according to Raile, who explained that receding ice in the Arctic is creating waterways that previously did not exist.
He added that “everybody is more interested in the area for trade and other purposes.”
"It's important that the Navy does more and more exercise up in this part of the world," Raile said. "We have the opportunity of a ship that needs something to do and something that needs to be done. It works out pretty well."
The ship will continue to undisclosed locations after leaving Ketchikan, Raile said.