Every now and then in Alaska, there is an event that gets both locals and potential visitors extremely excited. From the opening of new retail locations – such as Bass Pro Shop and Cabela’s, both set to open within the next year in Anchorage – to a popular band making the trip north to put on a show, it takes something new and distinct to please both Alaskans and travelers in the Last Frontier.
One of these unique events is upon us again in the form of an amphibious transport dock weighing more than 25,000 long tons. On Saturday, May 4, just before Alaska’s summer tourism season kicks into high gear, the ship will make its way to the Port of Anchorage for a truly momentous event; the USS Anchorage (LPD-23) will be formally commissioned into service of the United States Navy.
The commission ceremony will mark the first time a U.S. Navy vessel enters into service in the nation’s 49th state. It is a landmark event many residents and elected officials have been pushing for from the moment the vessel was given its name; and it seems both significant and appropriate for Alaska to launch the USS Anchorage into service, as the state is home to an estimated 25,000 active duty servicemen and women at any given time. The commissioning ceremony is, in essence, the point when the vessel “comes to life,” and, in the USS Anchorage’s case, this comes after a long voyage from as far south as Louisiana.
Though this is the first time a ship is commissioned for service in Alaska, it is not the first time the city of Anchorage shares its name with a vessel. The first USS Anchorage was a dock landing ship commissioned in 1969. It proudly served the U.S. Navy for 34 years.
While the commissioning ceremony will take place on May 4, events surrounding this historic occasion begin as early as Thursday, April 25, with a welcoming ceremony followed by public ship tours and crew activities. The ship will spend a total of 10 days in Anchorage, and commissioning officials are anticipating around 4,000 people to attend the events, including crew families and military dignitaries.
Other things to do in Anchorage
The Port of Anchorage is just walking distance from downtown where opportunities for dining, fun and learning about Alaska are endless. Nearby attractions such as the Anchorage Museum, Alaska Center for the Performing Arts and Tony Knowles Coastal Trail have something for every member of your family. These and many other must-see spots are within walking distance of the Westmark Anchorage Hotel, where staff will gladly assist you with whatever questions you may have about visiting Anchorage. Take a tour of the USS Anchorage and follow it up with a delicious meal at our Solstice Bar & Grill.
Click here to find out more about the USS Anchorage Commissioning Ceremony and other related events.