NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Sailors will be manning the rails of the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) Friday when she sails past Town Point Park during the Parade of Ships at Harborfest.
The ship will be welcomed into the harbor with a traditional gun salute by Gunner’s Mates from Naval Station Norfolk manning a portable 40mm saluting battery.
Aircraft from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28 (HSC 28) Dragon Whales will perform a flyover as the ship arrives in the harbor and during the gun salute. After the Parade of Ships, the Mesa Verde will depart for operations at sea.
A cruise ship will be at Nauticus Pier, which means the Navy ship won’t moor after the Parade of Ships. Instead, the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) will arrive Saturday.
The Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Group TWO will also show up Saturday to exhibit their EOD command truck, bomb robots and bomb suits. The EOD exhibit will be next to the Nauticus Pier and the Bainbridge Saturday.
In addition to the Bainbridge and EOD, Coastal Riverine Squadron Four will have two combat craft participating during the Harborfest weekend. The combat craft will be in the Parade of Ships and moor at Mercury Dock Friday and will be open for general public visitation Friday and Sunday. The craft will perform tactical demonstrations off the Harborfest waterfront Friday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. The crew will also have a Tactical Combat Casualty Care exhibit.
Bainbridge will be open both Saturday and Sunday for visitors at the Nauticus Pier from 12 to 6 p.m. Visitors should keep in mind that lines may be capped early so that those in line have a chance to complete their tours. Some items aren’t allowed on board, so take a peek at the signs posted in the park. All bags will be searched before boarding the ship.
Visitors to the Bainbridge should wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Ships are considered industrial environments and guests are encouraged to avoid open-toed sandals, high-heels, jewelry or other things that can get caught, as well as bags that are too heavy to comfortably carry. Sunglasses and sunscreen are advised, too.
There’s no age requirement, but tours may not be appropriate for small children or those with certain medical conditions. Strollers are allowed on the pier, but not on the ships. The ship is also not handicap accessible.
The U.S. Navy’s environmental and energy team will have exhibits in the park near the marina from noon to 6 p.m. each day, featuring the U.S. Fleet Forces “Stewards of the Sea” exhibit, with the Navy’s environmental mascot, “Stewie” and the Navy’s Oyster Restoration program. “Stewie” is the Navy’s environmental mascot and represents the dual mission that at-sea service members perform to protect the nation and preserve the environment. Stewie will be available for photos.