A U.S. Navy destroyer will be docking at the Eastport breakwater for this year's Fourth of July festivities, for the first time in three years. The USS Lassen, a 509-foot Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, is expected to be at the downtown pier from July 1 through July 5.
While Eastport has a long history of hosting Navy ships for the Fourth of July, the island city has not had one in port since 2014, following the partial collapse of the breakwater in December 2014. The rebuilding of the breakwater is nearly complete, and while the Navy ship will be able to tie up to the pier, the public will not yet be allowed on the breakwater, except to tour the ship.
A public ribbon-cutting ceremony for the rebuilt breakwater will be held in conjunction with the Fourth of July celebration on July 4 at 5:30 p.m. The breakwater will be open to the public by mid-July.
Barbara McPhail, chair of the Eastport Fourth of July Committee, notes that the ship will be the first to dock at the newly rebuilt pier. "The officers and crew have been in contact with the committee in anticipation of their arrival and are looking forward to participating in several events, including the Fireman's Muster, Codfish Relay, July 4th flag-raising ceremony and the Grand Independence Day Parade. There will be a public reception on Saturday, July 1, at 3 p.m. at the Eastport Port Authority Welcome Center to show our appreciation. It's a great opportunity for the community to meet the brave men and women of the U.S. Navy."
The USS Lassen (DDG-82) has a crew of approximately 320. She is named for Commander Clyde Everett Lassen, a native of Fort Myers, Fla., who earned the Medal of Honor for his courageous rescue of two downed aviators while commander of a search-and-rescue helicopter in Vietnam. The ship was built by Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., and was launched in 1999. She was homeported in San Diego until she shifted homeport to Yokosuka Naval Base in Yokosuka, Japan, in August 2005.
In January 2016, she moved to Naval Station Mayport in Mayport, Fla.