Anchorage Prepares for USS Anchorage Commissioning

USS Anchorage. Photo courtesy ussanchoragenavy.com

For the second time, the U.S. Navy is honoring Anchorage by naming a new amphibious ship after Alaska’s largest city. The USS Anchorage will be commissioned at the Port of Anchorage in May and kicks off the city’s Centennial Celebration. Navy captain Brian Quin will be the commanding officer of the vessel. The ship is built and he says at 684 feet long and just under 106 feet wide, it was a tight squeeze through the Panama Canal locks which are only 4 feet larger. The vessel is an amphibious transport dock or LPD. Captain Quin clicks off huge numbers that relay the vast amount of cargo, ammunition and vehicle stowage capabilities.

“But the most important thing about this ship is its principle battery which is the Marine infantrymen. We take 800 of those marines anywhere in the world they need to go and we have 400 sailors to do that task.”

He says they will usually travel with two other vessels to take an entire marine expeditionary unit, numbering in the thousands, ashore, but they can also travel with an aircraft carrier strike group. The amphibious nature of the ship allows it to get much closer to land for the purpose of taking marines to shore and then delivering them back to the ships.

The first USS Anchorage was in service from 1969 to 2003.

“That Anchorage was an LSD, a dock landing ship, so very similar missions. And then after that Anchorage was decommissioned and then eventually sunk as a target in 2005, so she went down training sailors so it was a noble death.”

(From left to right) Lieutenant Todd Kamins, Captain Brian Quin who will be the commanding officer of the vessel and Lieutenant Commander Kevin Friel. Photo by Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage.

Captain Quin says the ship’s motto was inspired by a visit to the Alaska Native Heritage Center on an earlier trip he made to Anchorage.

“And the discussion about the level of preparation that Alaska Natives went into in their daily tasks as well as looking forward to the winter season and how to prepare food and how to make it last inspired me to think a lot about the ship’s motto and so based on that interaction, the ship’s motto is We Leave Nothing To Chance. So it’s both a bold boast as well as reflective of what we do day to day in terms of preparing to take marines ashore for humanitarian reasons or for other reasons.”

Quin says the ship’s seal also started with that initial inspiration from the Heritage center.

“I wound up putting two moose antlers at the top to represent the city and then in between those moose antlers, there is an image of Cook Inlet, so you have the mountains in the background and then you see Captain Cook’s ship resolution centered in that image. Above the moose antlers and connecting them in an arch are six red stars. Those stars represent the six battle stars earned by the first U.S.S.Anchorage during her Vietnam era service.”

Tours of the USS Anchorage will be available during the ship’s commission ceremony in May.

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Lori Townsend is the News Director for the Alaska Public Radio Network. She got her start in broadcasting at the age of 11 as the park announcer of the fast pitch baseball games in Deer Park, Wisconsin. She has worked in print and broadcast journalism for more than 18 years. She was the co-founder and former Editor of Northern Aspects, a magazine featuring northern Wisconsin writers and artists. She worked for 7 years at tribal station WOJB on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibway Reservation in Wisconsin, first as an on-air programmer and special projects producer and eventually News Director. In 1997 she co-hosted a continuing Saturday afternoon public affairs talk program on station KSTP in St. Paul, Minnesota. Radio brought her to Alaska where she worked as a broadcast trainer for Native fellowship students at Koahnic Broadcasting. Following her work there, she helped co-found the non-profit broadcast company Native Voice Communications with veteran Alaskan broadcasters Nellie Moore, D’Anne Hamilton, Len Anderson, Sharon McConnell and Veronica Iya. NVC created the award-winning Independent Native News as well as producing many other documentaries and productions. Townsend was NVC’s technical trainer and assistant producer of INN. Through her freelance work, she has produced news and feature stories nationally and internationally for Independent Native News, National Native News, NPR , Pacifica, Monitor Radio, Radio Netherlands and AIROS. Her print work and interviews have been published in News from Indian Country, Yakama Nation Review and other publications. Ms. Townsend has also worked as a broadcast trainer for the Native American Journalist’s Association and with NPR’s Doug Mitchell and as a freelance editor. Townsend is the recipient of numerous awards for her work from the Alaska Press Club, the Native American Journalists Association and a gold and a silver reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Townsend was the recipient of a Fellowship at the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting in Rhode Island as well as a fellowship at the Knight Digital Media Center in Berkeley. She is an avid reader, a rabid gardener and counts water skiing, training horses, diving and a welding certification among her past and current interests. ltownsend (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8452 | About Lori