WILMINGTON -- The submarine North Carolina has arrived in Wilmington for its commissioning on Saturday.
Right now, it is the PCU North Carolina. It will become the USS North Carolina after it is commissioned on Saturday.
This is an event that leaders have been looking forward to for nearly a year.
With a gentle nudge or two from a couple of friendly tugboats, the submarine North Carolina made its way toward the State Port.
There was heavy security for the arrival, both in the water and on land.
Many of the local and state officials who helped make this event happen, along with the wives of several crew members, stood by on shore. They were brought into town to enjoy this week's festivities.
"The town of Wilmington has been fabulous as far as accepting everybody, and have really made everybody as far as the crew and families really feel welcomed," said Tanya Hertel, the wife of the executive officer.
It took a little while to tie the sub to the dock. At 7,800 tons, it's not like parking the family car.
Having this state-of-the-art weapon arrive in town is the culmination of ten years worth of hard work.
"After the Navy decided to purchase a boat in 1998 and decide to build a submarine, we had a couple years to work on it, and work on it. Finally, when they decided to name it the North Carolina in the year 2000, that was very exciting. Then we started the process to get to this day," said Representatvie Mike McIntyre.
Captain Mark Davis received a key to the city from Mayor Bill Saffo. He and the crew plan to see the city and enjoy some southern hospitality, while the mayor starts planning for the future.
"We've been talking about when it is de-commissioned, some thirty years from now, we would love to have this nuclear-powered submarine near the U.S. Memorial North Carolina," said Mayor Saffo.
About 6,000 people are expected for the invitation-only ceremony Saturday morning at the State Port.
It will be the first time a submarine or warship has been commissioned in this state.
Reported by Jon Evans