Pit stop; U.S.S. Independence refuels in Humboldt Bay

The U.S.S. Independence -- a combat ship and helicopter carrier -- made a visit to Humboldt Bay Harbor on Monday for a refueling break.

Humboldt Bay Harbor District Bar Pilot Captain John Powell said he "brought the ship in" and will likely do so in the future.

"She is here taking on fuel," Powell said. "She'll be coming in three more times."

The nearly 420-foot long vessel -- also known as Littoral Combat Ship 2, or LCS-2 -- was docked for nearly 10 hours at Schneider Dock and Intermodal Facility on Waterfront Drive in Eureka.

Powell said that the ship left Monday afternoon around 5 p.m. and will return three more times. As to why the vessel was out in the bay, Powell said he was "not allowed to give out that information."

Schneider Dock owner Dave Schneider said that the ship is set to make its first return to Eureka on Friday morning.

After being delivered from the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala., to the Navy in 2009, the war vessel made its maiden voyage to its homeport in San Diego in 2012 by crossing through the Panama Canal, according to the Navy website. Within its aluminum hull, the ship can accommodate eight officers and 32 enlisted servicemen and women.

The Navy website also states that the warship and its sister ship -- the LCS-3 -- are undergoing "post delivery test and trials," which are scheduled to end in an undisclosed date in 2014.

The operations manual of the Navy's shipbuilding and ship repair contract administrator -- the Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair of the Naval Sea Systems Command -- states that these tests are used to demonstrate "that the ship is materially complete" and that the its components "are capable of supporting the design specifications and ship requirements" during operation.

Several phone calls and an email to the Navy public affairs office were not returned before deadline.

Will Houston can be reached at 707-441-0504 or whouston@times-standard.com. Follow him on Twitter @Will_S_Houston.