Eastport will host a U.S. Navy vessel during the Fourth of July and Old Home Week after all. In the wake of an earlier decision by the Navy to deny the Fourth of July Committee's request for a ship, U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine announced that the USS Anzio (CG-68) will visit Eastport during the city's Independence Day festivities.
"The Fourth of July, Old Home Week celebration is an iconic destination for Mainers and visitors alike," they said in a joint release. "We are pleased that the Navy will honor our state with a port visit, allowing those who serve in the U.S. Navy and the citizens they protect an opportunity to come together."
Eastport Fourth of July Committee Chair Barbara Hicks says of the decision, "We're honored to be able to host the USS Anzio during Eastport's Fourth of July and Old Home Week celebration. Fortunately Captain Bob Peacock and Senator Susan Collins didn't give up when the initial response from the Navy was that there wouldn't be a port visit this year. Our committee has been in contact with the USS Anzio, and they are looking forward to taking in the beauty of Downeast Maine and participating in all of the festivities."
The ship is scheduled to arrive on Thursday, July 3, and depart on Monday, July 7. Two cruise ships are also expected to visit Eastport during the same time period, but the schedule should work so that they can all be accommodated. The 210-passenger Pearl Mist is stopping by on July 2, and the 88-passenger Grande Caribe will visit on July 6 but can dock at the fish pier. The USS Anzio will be at the breakwater.
"It looks like we've pulled off all three," says Eastport Port Director Chris Gardner of the ability to juggle facilities and host three large vessels during the first week of July.
He points out that the change in plans by the Navy demonstrates "the importance of personal relationships that sell Eastport. We need to give a tremendous thanks to our senators along with our own Captain Peacock who did a tremendous amount of personal work to get the proper focus on the impact that a Navy ship has for the Eastport Fourth."
Bob Peacock points out that Eastport is the only port in Maine that will host a Navy ship this year. Also, a Navy ship has now been scheduled for next year, too. He notes that there may be some "high-ranking officers" on the Anzio.
Based in Norfolk, Va., and launched in 1990, the USS Anzio is a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser that has more than 300 sailors aboard. Captain Timothy R. Trampenau is the commanding office, and Lt. Commander John P. Drosinos is the ship's executive officer.
The vessel is the second one named in honor of the men and women who served at the Battle of Anzio, which took place from January 22 to June 4, 1944, just north of Naples, Italy. The Allied forces suffered nearly 28,000 casualties while clearing the road to Rome. The two German corps engaged on the Anzio front were originally destined for Normandy. The success of the Allied landings on the beaches in France in June 1944 was due largely to the tenacity of the Allied forces at Anzio.