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Community, family members greet soon-to-be commissioned warship USS Manchester

Union Leader Correspondent

May 21. 2018 9:34PM
Josefa Quiroz, Lorena Quiroz, 14-month-old Jade Quiroz and Debbie Sims wait for crew member Oscar Quiroz to disembark from the future USS Manchester in Portsmouth on Monday. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent)
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People lined the New Hampshire State Pier in Portsmouth Monday as they eagerly awaited the arrival of the future USS Manchester.

The littoral combat ship traveled from Virginia to the Port City and will be officially commissioned during a ceremony at the pier Saturday morning. Tickets for the event ran out earlier this month, according to officials.

Lorena Quiroz of San Diego, Calif., was at the pier Monday with her 14-month-old daughter, Jade. Quiroz’s husband, Oscar, is a crew member on the ship.

She watched as the ship traveled beneath the Memorial Bridge on the final leg of its journey.

“I’m just so excited to see him and I just can’t wait to hold him and bring him to see our little girl again. He’s been gone for a while,” Quiroz said.

The Granite State Ambassadors volunteered to work at the event and planned to help the men and women aboard the ship learn more about the historic city of Portsmouth during their stay.

“They need a good New Hampshire welcome,” Kate Bashline of Hampton said.

Steve Abramowitz of Amherst, who said he is a former naval officer, was there to support the sailors.

“It’s a great homecoming and good morale booster,” Abramowitz said of the waiting crowd.

Crew members from the USS New Hampshire submarine were at the pier, curious to see if they knew anyone on board the new ship.

“It’s a brand new experience. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to be here and see a ship get commissioned,” Petty Officer Zachary Sheehan said.

The USS Manchester goes under the Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth on Monday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Petty Officer First Class Laryssa Noyes, 24, of Derry, will be a part of the USS Manchester crew.

“The Navy has opened up a lot of doors for me,” Noyes said about her six years of service. She has traveled to Mexico and passed through the Panama Canal in 2016.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, and Gov. Chris Sununu were both on board the ship. Shaheen is its sponsor.

“The commissioning of this ship is a testament to our state’s historic and ongoing contribution to our national defense and the New Hampshire community’s continued support for our service members and their families who sacrifice so much for our country. I’ve been involved with this commissioning process since 2011, so it meant a great deal to be here today and I’m looking forward to celebrating with Crew 214 and the Portsmouth community on Saturday,” Shaheen said in a statement.

The 3,200-ton USS Manchester is 421 feet in length, has a beam of 104 feet, and a navigational draft of 14 feet. The ship is powered by two gas turbine engines, two main propulsion diesel engines and four waterjets and can travel 40-plus knots.

This is the second ship in the U.S. Navy to be named after the Queen City. The first USS Manchester, a light cruiser that saw action during the Korean War, was commissioned in 1946 and operated primarily in the Pacific. It served three combat tours and earned nine battle stars before it was decommissioned in 1956. On her last tour, the USS Manchester participated in Operation “Glory” to return to Hawaii 50 unidentified American dead from the Korean War.

Commander Emily Bassett, a native of Seattle, is the commanding officer of the future USS Manchester and leads a core crew of 71 officers and enlisted personnel.

The Sarah Mildred Long Bridge between Portsmouth and Kittery, Maine, was closed as the ship docked. The bridge is expected to be closed again on Saturday morning during the commissioning ceremony.

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