By Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
MONTREAL – An American warship stuck in Montreal since Christmas Eve has finally resumed its trip to its home port in Florida, the U.S. Navy confirmed on Saturday.
The USS Little Rock was commissioned in Buffalo, N.Y., on Dec. 16 but was trapped by ice at the Port of Montreal less than two weeks into its maiden voyage.
A spokeswoman for the Navy said officials decided to wait until weather conditions improved before allowing the ship to continue its journey to Mayport, Fla., out of concern for the safety of the ship and crew.
Lt. Cmdr. Courtney Hillson confirmed the ship finally left the city early on Saturday after spending more than three months in Montreal.
It is expected to arrive in Florida early next month after making several port visits along the way.
In a statement, the Navy thanked the city for the hospitality it showed the stranded crew.
“We greatly appreciate the support and hospitality of the city of Montreal, the Montreal Port Authority and the Canadian Coast Guard,” said the USS Little Rock Commanding Officer Cmdr. Todd Peters.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to further enhance our strong partnerships.”
The 118-metre Freedom-variant Little Rock is described as a fast and agile combat ship that is capable of operating near shore as well as on the open ocean.
It’s the second vessel to bear the name, and was commissioned in December alongside its Second World War-era namesake — a U.S. naval first.
The warship was equipped with temporary heaters and 16 de-icers designed to reduce ice accumulation on the hull, and the crew was provided with cold-weather clothing in light of the change to their winter plans.
The ship’s departure may be a relief to some nearby condo dwellers, who complained over the winter about the constant rumble emanating from the vessel’s generators.
In response, the lights illuminating the ship were dimmed and adjustments were made in February to a soundproofing, acoustic barrier wall surrounding the generators, the Port of Montreal said at the time.