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Sketched Aug. 4, 2010

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Seattle Times news artist Gabriel Campanario has been capturing Seattle's places and people in hand-drawn sketches for more than a decade. To see past columns, visit the Seattle Sketcher home page. Prints, notecards and a book of Campanario’s sketches are available for sale through The Seattle Times store. You may also fill out an illustration request to order a specific image.

I’ve recently been near cargo and cruise ships at the Port of Seattle, so it seemed fitting to round up my experience of the waterfront with a visit to the war ships coming to Elliott Bay for Seafair’s Fleet Week.

On Wednesday, I met lieutenant junior grade Samuel P. Drake aboard the San Diego-based destroyer USS Kidd, which is docked at Pier 66. The 25-year-old officer, originally of Amherst, N.H., is looking forward to setting foot in Seattle, a city he knows only from the TV sitcom “Frasier.” But he will get just a few hours off the ship, one of three U.S. Navy vessels coming to Elliott Bay this year.

In two years of service, Drake has been to Japan, Thailand and Singapore. However, six-month stints on the 270-crew Navy ship are no cruise. Officers must be able to do any job on the ship, from driving it to operating the guns, said Drake. “I’ve definitely had times when I’ve worked 18-hour days.”

Drake is excited to meet visitors as he leads tours of the ship through the weekend. The ship is like a small town where everybody knows each other, he said. “It’s nice to see other folks.”

If you plan to take the tour, be prepared to go up and down steep stairs as you navigate through the narrow halls inside the vessel. You’ll also step on the helipad, see the “mess decks” where the sailors eat and take in the view from the bridge. Also, don’t forget to bring your Photo ID for the security check.

Fleet Week ships are open to the public Saturday (9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.) and Sunday (12 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.) Information at seafair.com.

A Coast Guard boat patrols the waters near the USS Kidd at Pier 66.