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City celebrates arrival of USS Detroit

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Motor City showed its love Friday for U.S. Navy’s new $440 million littoral combat ship named after the city after the vessel docked in the Detroit River.

Hundreds gathered along the Riverwalk behind the Renaissance Center to welcome one of the Navy’s new Freedom-class ships, which moored at about 1:25 p.m.

USS Detroit arrives along Detroit’s riverfront on Friday.

Robin Harkless, 55, of Waterford Township was among them.

Her son, Matthew Harkless, is serving as an EM1, or an electrician’s mate, aboard the USS Detroit. She said it was an emotional day for her.

“I’m very proud of my son,” she said. “It’s hard to express in words how I’m feeling. I’m trying not to cry because I’m so excited for him. I’m so proud of him.”

A large crowd stood on the steps leading from the Riverwalk to the dock as the Detroit sailed toward them. More than a 100 members of the Michigan Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution were joined by local dignitaries and media to watch her dock.

Some were dressed in red, white and blue. Some waved small American flags. Everyone cheered when the ship turned to pull up along the dock. They shouted, whistled and cheered even louder when the ships crew tossed down ropes to moor the vessel.

After she was secured, officials with the USS Detroit Commissioning Committee and the Metropolitan Detroit Council of the Navy League held a reception in the GM Wintergarden inside the Ren Cen to welcome the ship and her crew.

Tour the USS Detroit - A 360-degree experience

“I’m feeling exalted,” said Barbara Levin, wife of former Sen. Carl Levin, and the ship’s sponsor. “It’s just a great feeling to be a sponsor. It’s a great feeling to see the ship coming into the city and all of the people who are so excited to welcome it here.”

As ship sponsor, Levin will officially christen the ship, remain in contact with its crew and will be involved in special events for the ship throughout its life.

The USS Detroit, one of the United States' news warships, travels into the St. Clair River Friday morning in Port Huron on its way to Detroit.

USS Detroit Cmdr. Michael Desmond thanked everyone for the warm reception on behalf of his crew.

“This is quite a reception,” he said. “It’s a pleasure to be here. Detroit is a delightful city of proud, innovative and hard-working Americans. Me and my shipmates are honored to be here, and we look forward to the commissioning.”

The Detroit is scheduled to be in town for a week of events leading up to is official commissioning, scheduled for Oct. 22.

Public tours of the vessel will be conducted between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday on a first-come, first-served basis, according to the USS Detroit’s commissioning committee. And being on hand between those hours is no guarantee of being able to go aboard.

The ship will be surrounded by a security fence with an opening entry point, which is where the public tour line will form. A picture ID is required while large bags, weapons and alcohol are prohibited. The tour also cannot accommodate wheelchairs and walkers.

USS Detroit: A new breed of ship for U.S. Navy

According to the committee: “Tours ... will be cut off at 5 p.m. at the discretion of the captain and crew, even if you are already in line at that time. The crew must prepare for nighttime activities and commitments.”

Additional private tours have been made available to some preselected veteran and school groups.

cramirez@detroitnews.com