SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) -- With Fleet Week in full swing, you might notice a new addition to the bay waters.
On Sunday, the U.S.S. Essex docked in the San Francisco Bay and visitors are making the trip to the Embarcadero to get a look at the huge ship, nicknamed "The Iron Gator."
"Oh my gosh!" Visitor David Stevenson said. "It's beautiful."
The motto, appropriately, for the U.S.S. Essex is "take notice."
"Overwhelming," visitor Judie Phelps said. "I couldn't imagine anything so big."
The ship is 844 feet long, carrying more than 1,800 troops.
Its commanding officer is Captain Jason Burns
For decades, the U.S.S. Essex has been used to assist in humanitarian and disaster relief efforts around the world, serving as a landing craft for jets, helicopters, and assault vehicles.
It boasts medical labs and operating rooms, capable of caring for up to 600 patients.
Phelps and her husband Robert drove up from San Jose to the Embarcadero in San Francisco to take a look.
"Everything's there that they'd ever need, you know--impressive," Robert said.
Stevenson is visiting from North Carolina getting a glimpse into the lives of the sailors who serve the United States Navy on what is called a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship.
"It was emotional and I didn't realize it would be," Stevenson said. "It'd been 30-something years since I was on a naval ship."
Walking through the U.S.S. Essex brought Stevenson back to his days as a religious program specialist for the Navy aboard the U.S.S. Ranger.
He says fleet week is near and dear to his heart and so are the men and women who bravely serve.
"I actually feel like it's great for people to see the youth that are serving our country so selflessly, and to realize the sacrifice that they may be making," Stevenson said. "Sometimes, the ultimate sacrifice."
The U.S.S. Essex is truly a special sight, and it will remain in the San Francisco Bay through Tuesday.
So, if you haven't had a chance to come and check it out, it will be on Piers 30 and 32.
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