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New class of US Navy destroyer pays surprise visit to Ketchikan

In this Saturday, March 23, 2019 photo, assisted by tugs in Tongass Narrows, the U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer USS Zumwalt approaches Berth 2 in Ketchikan, Alaska. The ship was scheduled for a multi-day visit in the First City. (Dustin Safranek/Ketchikan Daily News via AP)

KETCHIKAN - One of the U.S. Navy’s newest class of warships docked at an Alaska port for a rare visit as the military looks to conduct more exercises in the Arctic.

The USS Zumwalt, a 610-foot-long guided missile destroyer launched in October 2013 and based in San Diego, docked in Ketchikan on Saturday for a weekend stay, the Juneau Empire reported.

Steve Corporon, Ketchikan's port and harbors director, said bigger fenders were needed to make sure the ship would fit without damaging the vessel or the dock.

Navy Commander Brandon Raile said the last Navy visit to Ketchikan was the USS Ogden in 2005, and Arctic strategy played a role in this the current stop.

Raile said receding ice in the Arctic is creating waterways that previously did not exist. He added that "everybody is more interested in the area for trade and other purposes."

"It's important that the Navy does more and more exercise up in this part of the world," Raile said. "We have the opportunity of a ship that needs something to do and something that needs to be done. It works out pretty well."

The ship left for undisclosed locations after departing Ketchikan, Raile said.

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