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USS Gabrielle Giffords open for public tours this weekend

SAN DIEGO -- The recently commissioned littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords is scheduled to be open for public tours Saturday and Sunday, according to the Navy.

The 419-foot-long vessel, named for an Arizona congresswoman wounded in a 2011 mass shooting in Tucson, was brought into service last month at a ceremony in Galveston, Texas. It arrived at its San Diego home port on July 5.

Gabrielle Giffords is the ninth littoral combat ship delivered to the Navy and the fifth LCS of the Independence type, which features a trimaran hull and large flight deck.

The LCS is a high-speed, agile ship designed for combat in coastal waters. They replaced aging frigates, but have been prone to malfunctions, particularly to their propulsion systems.

According to the Navy, the Gabrielle Giffords is the 16th ship to be named for a woman and the 13th to be named for a living person since 1850.

It will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days at Broadway Pier.

The Navy said visitors should expect security checks and lines during peak hours, and that those who come aboard should be in good enough physical condition to go up and down steep ladders. The ship is not handicapped accessible.

Members of the public are encouraged to bring as few items as possible and wear flat-heeled, closed-toe shoes. High-heel shoes, flip-flops and improper attire, like bathing suits, are not permitted.

Adults should be prepared to show state- or federal-issued photo identification, and minors should be accompanied by adults with ID, according to the Navy.

The following items are prohibited:

-- weapons, including knives, firearms and club weapons;

-- defensive chemicals or sprays, including mace, pepper spray and aerosol spray cans;

-- fireworks, flammable liquids or other explosives;

-- illegal drugs and/or drug-related paraphernalia; and

-- large bags or purses, including backpacks or large camera bags.

The Navy said there will be no storage available for personal items like bicycles, baby strollers, scooters, pets, etc. Due to security concerns, all such items will not be permitted to remain on or near the pier area.