The USS Gravely arrived in the Port City Friday morning as Mobile’s annual Mardi Gras ship.
Many of the men and women aboard the USS Gravely have been away from family for quite some time…some, more than a year. The ship recently returned stateside from a tour in the Eastern Mediterranean. Now, the ship comes to Mobile for Mardi Gras, and the men and women could not be more excited to celebrate in the festivities.
FOX10 News was the only news crew on the ship as she came into Mobile Bay Friday morning.
On the trip into the ship channel, the USS Gravely paused briefly between Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines over the USS Tecumseh. The US Navy Civil War ship sunk in the Battle of Mobile Bay, killing 94 on board. The old adage: “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” originated here.
Afterward, the USS Gravely continued onward toward her destination of the Alabama State Docks.
For several days, around 300 men and women of U.S. Navy aboard the USS Gravely will be in Mobile to explore all Mardi Gras has to offer.
It’s a privilege for the crew to come here and enjoy the festivities and celebrate Mardi Gras with the city of Mobile,” said PSC Demond Barker.
Chief Barker is from Lanett, Alabama and he was happy to be back in his home state. He also has a special connection to the ship. The USS Gravely was named after the first African American Admiral of the Navy: Samuel L. Gravely, Jr.
“It’s quite an honor being in 21 years now. It’s the first vessel that I’ve served on that I can have a sense of pride with, and the namesake of the it. Because Admiral Gravley was a groundbreaking person and he helped usher in a lot of changes and it’s quite an honor to be aboard,” said PSC Barker.
Ensign Matthew Lutz is from Norfolk, Virginia. He had been serving on the ship for the past two weeks. Lutz is coming to Mobile for the first time.
“This is my first time in Alabama. I’m very excited to be here. I’m looking forward to learning the city’s history learning about their traditions and culture of the Mardi Gras celebration,” said Ensign Lutz.
But none are more excited than the men and women who are from Alabama, or have family here, like Culinary Specialist Second Class, Emily Baird.
“I get to come back every couple of years or so and I’m very excited about being here. This is a second home to me. And I’m very excited to see my family and very excited to enjoy Mardi Gras festivities,” said CS2 Emily Baird.
“Returning home is fantastic. Being home for Mardi Gras and just being here and just seeing all the friendly faces and the familiar sites, it’s great. I used to come here to Gulf Shores and the Mobile area all the time for Spring Break in high school so it’s just like ah man coming back home…home port…greatest feeling in the world to be back,” said E1 Cory Pate.
The USS Gravely will be in Mobile for the next five days docked at the Alabama State Docks. For security reasons, the ship is not allowing tours.
If you see any of the crewmen and women in the city, stop and say hello and be sure to thank them for their service, as well. They greatly appreciate it.