Photo Information

Jennifer Adams, part of a group of distinguished visitors visiting USS New York, holds a Shoulder-Launched, Multi-purpose Assault Weapon, while Sgt. Nathan Dettling, an infantry assaultman, explains the purpose and function of the weapon system. "The weight of what you have to carry is incredible!" exclaimed Adams, who quickly gave the gear back to Dettling. The Marines are part of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 26, a unit formed to support the commissioning of USS New York in New York City, Nov. 7, 2009. With 7 1/2 tons of steel recovered from the World Trade Center forged in her bow, the ship symbolizes America's perseverance in the face of adversity while honoring the memory of those lost, paying homage to the survivors, and building an enduring bond between the ship and the people of the state of New York. The role of SPMAGTF-26 is to represent future Marine expeditionary forces who will deploy on and from a vessel built around the Navy-Marine Corps team. As the newest Landing Platform Dock in the U.S. Navy's fleet, USS New York boasts a larger flight deck and well deck and has many other improvements designed to allow Marines to prepare for and execute missions quicker and more efficiently than previous versions of the LPD. USS New York is scheduled to arrive in New York City, Nov. 2, and will be open to public tours where the embarked Marines will display their gear and interact with visitors.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Tommy Bellegarde

Guests learn from Marines while touring USS New York

6 Nov 2009 | Lance Cpl. Tommy Bellegarde

Eyes sparkled and smiles spread wide as approximately a 100 distinguished visitors took an opportunity to tour USS New York and visit with her crew and embarked Marines Sunday.

               Among the guests was former Secretary of the Navy, Gordon England, and his wife Dotty, the ship’s sponsor.

               “By Naval tradition, the sponsor is always a woman,” explained Dotty. The sponsor also endows the ship with its spirit, she added.

               USS New York was forged with 7 1/2 tons of steel from the World Trade Center in her bow and honors the memory of those killed in the attacks of 9/11.

               “I really felt like I was giving the spirit of New York to the ship,” Dotty said. “I was very honored to do it.”

               As the Englands and other guests checked in, they were greeted by the commanding officer of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 26, Col. Mark J. Desens, as well as USS New York’s commander, Cmdr. F. Curtis Jones. One portion of the tour showcased various types of Marine Corps equipment from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., which was on display for the guests showcasing Marine expeditionary capabilities.

Marines from SPMAGTF-26, a unit formed to support the ship’s commissioning, gave the guests a quick course on the exhibits and allowed the civilians to hold the weapons, try on personal protective equipment, and even climb inside of an M1A1 Main Battle Tank.

               “That’s a sophisticated weapon!” exclaimed Jeff Wehrenberg, an airline executive from Queens, N.Y., after getting acquainted with an M16-A2 service rifle with an M203 grenade launcher attachment.

               Children at the event smiled ear-to-ear as they tried on flak jackets and helmets while holding M-16s.

England’s grandchildren enjoyed using the gear very much, she said.

               Eventually, the guests moved through all of the displays and finished the tour, many awed with what they had just taken part in.

               “The weight of what you have to carry is incredible!” said Jennifer Adams, the chief executive officer of the September 11th Families Association, after personally testing some of the gear used by Marines.