The USS Savannah will arrive earlier this week at the Port of Brunswick for a commissioning ceremony on Saturday.

Commissioning ceremonies are usually open to the public and usually attract thousands of people, but that won’t be the case for the ceremony in Savannah. The 10 a.m. ceremony for the Navy’s newest Independence-class littoral combat ship is invitation-only and limited to 500 people.

Those planning to attend will need to present proof of a COVID-19 vaccine or proof of a negative test within the past three days. Everyone is required to wear masks during the event.

Mike Broadway, a member of the Savannah chapter of the US Navy League, said the health precautions are necessary because the ship has a tight schedule when it leaves Brunswick and cannot afford a COVID outbreak among crew members.

The ship, which will be docked in San Diego, has an appointment to cross the Panama Canal that it cannot miss, he said.

Initial plans called for the ship to be commissioned in its namesake city, but the Port of Savannah has a backlog of ships waiting to unload cargo.

After Savannah Port officials said the ceremony was to be held elsewhere, there was talk of moving it to Wilmington, North Carolina, until Governor Brian Kemp got involved. Kemp intended to hold the commissioning ceremony in Georgia State, and he helped organize the event in Brunswick.

Dianne Davison Isakson, wife of former U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., is the ship’s sponsor. Their daughter, Julie Isakson Mitchell, will be the matron of honor for the event.

The Savannah is 400 feet long, displaces 2,307 metric tons and has over 70 crew members. The tri-aluminum hull vessel is capable of reaching a top speed of over 40 knots.

The Savannah will be designated an anti-submarine warfare vessel and will carry a mix of MH-60 helicopters and Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicles.