EVERETT — There’s a new kid in town: the USS Gridley.
The sleek, matte-gray warship quietly slipped into Port Gardner Saturday evening with a red, white and blue wreath around its prow and its decks dotted with sailors in dress whites. Sailors threw mooring lines to the dock. They heaved on the heavy lines and tied them off, securing the Gridley at its new home: Naval Station Everett.
She is the first of four destroyers the Navy plans to base here. The USS Sampson is expected to arrive in the fall, followed by the USS Kidd in late fall or winter. The USS Ralph Johnson is still being built in Mississippi, and likely won’t arrive before spring 2017, after being commissioned.
The four are Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers — warships built to destroy enemy craft in air, on the sea and under water. They will bring about 1,240 personnel to the Everett base.
Naval Station Everett’s biggest resident — the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz — likely won’t be back until 2019.
Family and friends greeted the Gridley. Some recently moved from San Diego, where the ship was previously based.
“I just finished unpacking,” said Molly Carroll.
The 23-year-old and her boyfriend, Ensign Sam Geerling, moved into their apartment in Everett last month. Carroll is still looking for work since moving from San Diego.
“I didn’t know if I should bring a sign. It’s my first homecoming,” Carroll said.
Shannon Shattuck brought a sign for her son, Robert. The hospital corpsman is fourth-generation Navy.
“I’ve been a Navy brat, a Navy wife and now, a Navy mother,” she said.
The families who wait dockside can be an incredibly tight community, Shattuck said.
That support makes tough times “go by a lot easier, like when a kid’s in the hospital and dad’s at sea,” she said.
More than an hour after the destroyer arrived, Robert Shattuck finally stepped on the dock.
“C’mon,” he said and waved.
His 15-year-old brother, Mason, ran and leapt into his arms.
Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @dcatchpole.
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