USS Little Rock crew embraces being frozen stuck in Montreal for the winter
'It's not the worst place to be stuck,' said Ensign Samantha Robbins outside the ship
The USS Little Rock was almost at sea level and ready to rush the open waters of the Atlantic. All it had to do was pass through the St. Lawrence River, swing around the Maritimes and head south to warmer waters to reach its final destination: Mayport, Fla.
In Facebook posts, the ship's crew, the LCS 109 Warhawgs, documented their progress — at dawn, at dusk and under snow — through the narrow Welland Canal, linking Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
Then a cold snap settled in as they approached Montreal via the St. Lawrence River. It didn't make it past Habitat 67.
The freezing temperatures and unusually heavy ice have locked in the brand new ship and its 70-member crew since Christmas Eve.
"It's not the worst place to be stuck," a smiling Ensign Samantha Robbins told CBC News outside the ship Tuesday.
Robbins said the crew has been keeping warm with winter supplies the sailors have been given since arriving, and another crew member said sailors have been able to explore the city outside their working hours.
Stuck until March?
The ship could be stuck until March, when the ice typically clears from Montreal's ports.
While onboard, crew members have been using the stopover to focus on mission training and certification.
At the tip of the 118-metre-long ship Tuesday, a handful of sailors shoveled the deck after an overnight snow storm had turned to freezing rain that morning.
The crew appears to have been embracing the situation.
In a social media post, crew members filmed themselves throwing boiling water overboard and into the frigid Montreal harbour, turning it into a frosty powder.
'She's agile, she's fast'
This is not the first time the ship has been stuck in wintry conditions. It was under snowfall and surrounded by floating ice when USS Little Rock was commissioned Dec. 16 in Buffalo, N.Y.
The ship's departure was also delayed because of weather conditions there, according to the Washington Post.
USS Little Rock is named after the Arkansas state capital and a World War II U.S. Navy ship that was at last month's commissioning.
"Little Rock has everything. She's sleek; she's responsive; she's agile; she's fast, and she's deadly," the ship's Cmdr. Todd Peters told the crowd at the commissioning.
"We would like to send a message to the entire world, friend and foe alike, USS Little Rock call sign vengeance is back."
A post on the navy's website says the ship was built by Lockheed Martin, has a displacement of 3,400 tons (3,084 tonnes), has two gas turbine engines and can reach speeds of more than 45 knots (about 83 km/h).
It is "designed to operate in near-shore environments, while capable of open-ocean tasking and winning against 21st-century coastal threats such as submarines, mines, and swarming small craft," the post says.