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.”
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.