BOSTON (CBS) – When the Tall Ships unfurl their sails on Saturday for their Boston visit, there’s one ship that will greet all the others. It’s a Navy landing ship with a crew of about 400.
Today we got a close up look. The U.S.S. Whidbey Island greeted Boston today as the crew manned the rails and unfurled Old Glory. The landing ship is the official review platform for Saturday’s Parade of Sail as the Tall Ships return to Boston. “I think it’s definitely a wonderful experience. I’ve never been to Boston before,” says Seaman Apprentice Sidney Dihany Balla.
One of the Whidbey Island’s first acts once they docked was to raise the American flag.
Our journey to the ship started hours earlier with a 40 minute helicopter trip and a landing on the Whidbey’s deck.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Ben Parker also made the flight from Hanscom to the deck of the Whidbey Island.
“The main purpose of the Whidbey Island class is to get Marines and their equipment to shore,” says retired Master Chief Scott Laplante, who served on the ship when it was first commissioned in 1985.
To fulfill that mission the ship can hold an enormous number of vehicles, equipment, Marines and sailors.
And a number of them are local, and are happy for a familiar stop. “I’ve got to hit up a couple of friends in Revere and there’s a couple of bars I’d like to visit, of course,” says Lt. Jay Ringenbach from Huntington, Massachusetts.
“I’m very excited. It’s been about 7 years since I’ve been home,” adds Gunnery Sgt. Callum Pearson who is from E. Bridgewater.
“I’ve heard some rumors about some Red Sox games and just explore mostly,” says Lance Corporal Kyle Palmer. And even if they’re not from New England, they’re ready for Boston. “I want to eat seafood!” says Petty Officer Geraldine Tang who is from New York.
The Whidbey Island’s home is Virginia Beach. The ship is 32 years old and the public is invited onboard during Sail Boston.
If you’re planning on being at the harbor, the Sail Boston website has a list of things you’re supposed to leave at home.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Ben Parker reports