Kodiak visited by US Navy destroyer following missile test

Commanding Officer of the USS John Paul Jones Robert Watts in his cabin.

A Navy destroyer pulled into port at Kodiak’s Pier 2 on Thursday Morning.

As it took on 300,000 gallons of fuel at the Kodiak City Dock, the USS John Paul Jones was easy to spot among the fishing vessels. The Arleigh Burke class destroyer is 505 feet long, with a sleek grey hull.

There was once a time when warships were a common sight in Kodiak, when it was home to a Navy Base during World War II.  Today, the Coast Guard calls the island home.

Even today, the Navy has work to do near Kodiak. The destroyer tested a ballistic missile intercept system about 100 miles away, according to the US Navy.

Sailors relax by missile tubes on the USS John Paul Jones.

The Navy says the USS John Paul Jones does many jobs at once to defend carrier groups from submarines, aircraft, and other vessels. The ship’s interior is pressurized to protect the crew from radiological, chemical, or biological attacks. It’s equipped with dozens of missile and torpedo tubes, and point defense weapons of many sizes and configurations. It’s also home to about 330 sailors. In its long halls and narrow corridors, you’ll find a barber shop, galleys, a gym, and a commissary.

While sailors did not have the opportunity to come ashore due to COVID-19 precautions, the commanding officer of the USS John Paul Jones, Robert Watts, said he wished that the sailors could have visited Kodiak.

“I’m really, really glad to be here. We’ve gotten great support from the Port of Kodiak and are glad to be here. I wish we had more time, and under circumstances where we were able to spend some time ashore. Hope we can come back in the future,” Watts said.

The soot-marked missile hatches mark the launch of an ICBM intercept missile.

The John Paul Jones is on its way to a new home port in Everett, Washington, a big contrast from its former station in Hawaii.

While in port, Sailors chatted on the spacious deck of the destroyer, sporting sweatshirts and other casual dress and enjoying the late sunshine of Alaska’s summer evenings. Some took the time to call home, having FaceTime chats around the deck. A small cadre of sailors focused intently on fishing off the ship’s helipad, catching a handful of petite halibut and rockfish. Elsewhere on board, the sailor managing the ship’s store made paper cutouts of Seattle’s enormous pine trees- hoping to set the tone for their new deployment.

They cast off Friday morning, steaming from Alaska’s emerald isle to the evergreen state.

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