USS Independence drops anchor in St. Petersburg over Labor Day weekend

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The public is invited for an up close and personal tour aboard one of the nation’s newest and most unique naval warships when the USS Independence (LCS 2) pays a visit to the Port of St. Petersburg beginning Friday, September 2. A limited number of free tickets will be distributed at the Mahaffey Theater Box Office on Thursday, September 1 and Friday, September 2 for public tours over the Labor Day weekend. The ship, which is believed to be the first Naval warship to visit St. Petersburg, will remain in port until its departure early Tuesday morning.

Free public tours of the 418-foot vessel will be conducted on Saturday, September 3 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (organizations only), Sunday, September 4 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and on Monday, September 5, from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. A limited number of people ages eight and older will be allowed to tour the Navy trimaran during its St. Petersburg port visit. Tours will be timed so no more than 150 people are on board the ship per hour.

Tickets: Free tickets will be distributed from the Mahaffey Theater Box Office, 400 First St. S., on Thursday and Friday, September 1 and 2, from Noon to 6 p.m. Tickets will be available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis, while supplies last. There will be a limit of four tickets per person.  There will be no charge to park in the Mahaffey Theater garage when picking up tickets; however, parking will cost $5 per vehicle Saturday through Monday during public tour hours. Organizations of 25 or more should request tickets for organization tours via email to or by calling 727-893-7465.  If using email, please note USS Independence in subject line.


General Information: The tour includes steep stairs and some non-air conditioned spaces, and is not advisable for individuals with restricted mobility or health issues.  The ship is not able to facilitate those who cannot walk unencumbered under their own power.  Sturdy, closed-toe, flat shoes are recommended, as are pants or shorts for ease of movement.  High heels, sandals, flip-flops or shower shoes will not be allowed on the tour. Due to safety considerations, only people ages eight and older will be allowed on the tour. Cameras are encouraged.  Almost all areas of the ship are able to be photographed.  Tour guides will specify where photographs are prohibited.
Parking will be available in the Mahaffey Theater garage for $5 per vehicle Saturday through Monday during public tour hours. Free shuttles will provide ticketed guests with transportation to the Port.  No one will be allowed on board the Port shuttle without a ticket.Ticketholders are advised to arrive one hour prior to their scheduled tour time for check-in, transportation to the Port and to pass through a Naval security screening. Restrooms inside the Mahaffey Theater parking garage and at the Port will be open for public use during tour hours.

Prohibited Items: Ticketholders are advised to leave weapons of any kind at home to avoid possible confiscation or tour refusal.  Alcohol, controlled substances and large bags of any kind will also be prohibited.  High heels, sandals, flip-flops or shower shoes will be not allowed on the tour as a safety precaution.

Port Access/Road Closures: Access to the Port and surrounding locations, including USF-St. Petersburg and Bayboro Harbor, will be patrolled and access restrictions will be strictly enforced at various checkpoints while the ship is in port. Ticketholders will only be able to access the Port during their scheduled tour slot and be restricted from entering or leaving the area unless by the official shuttle from the Mahaffey Theater garage.

Eighth Ave. S.E. from First St. to the Coast Guard station will be closed to through traffic Friday through Monday during scheduled tour hours while First St. S. will be closed to traffic at Sixth Ave. S. beginning Saturday through Monday.  Meawhile, parking will not be allowed on First St. S. from Sixth to Eighth Aves. beginning Friday evening through Monday evening.  Police checkpoints will be established at Eighth Ave. S.E. and First St. S. Friday through Monday.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.