NEW YORK CITY --
Thousands who lost their lives eight years ago were immortalized today during the commissioning of USS New York.
Hundreds poured onto Pier 88 in Manhattan to take part in the event that brought the newest ship in the Navy’s fleet to life. The largest in its class, USS New York has 7 ½ tons of steel salvaged from the World Trade Center forged in its bow. The commissioning of a naval vessel is a time of celebration that welcomes the ship and crew to the fleet.
“This unique ship is a symbol of the resiliency and character of the American people,” said Dotty England, the ship’s sponsor. “It will also be a constant reminder of our Nation’s commitment to defend life and liberty for our own citizens and for millions around the world.”
This is the sixth ship to bear the name USS New York. The first entered the waters of Lake Champlain in 1776.
“USS New York holds a unique place in the United States Navy with her strong roots in our revolutionary beginnings as well as a tangible link to the current war on terrorism,” said Gen. James T. Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps. “Each successive ship to sail under this name has continued to bolster a tradition of warfighting excellence and unwavering devotion to duty.”
Thousands of workers toiled in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York to search through and clear the rubble left behind. During this effort, steel was recovered that would contribute to the building of the 684 feet long, 105 feet wide, 18 story-tall USS New York.
“One of a new class of warship designed for missions that include special operations against terrorist, USS New York with its motto, “Never Forget,” is destined to continue its noble legacy sailing global waters to support the precious cause of freedom for people everywhere,” said New York Governor David A. Paterson. “As this ship embarks upon a future transporting teams engaged in challenging assignments of amphibious assault and expeditionary warfare, the officers and crew can be proud of their distinguished service which has strengthened our Navy’s reputation as a standard bearer of freedom and protection upon the seas.”
The strength of the ship not only moved those attending the commissioning, but those who participated.
“This ship is truly a sight to behold, and it's motivating to know that it has taken steel from a tragedy and turned it into a ship that will take the fight to our enemies,” said Sgt. Jeff Benson, an infantryman with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 26. SPMAGTF-26 was formed to showcase Marine expeditionary forces that will embark aboard USS New York.
Not only is steel forged into the hull, but a commemorative coin struck in honor of Staff Sgt. James McNaughton, a New York police officer who gave his life in Iraq in August 2005, was built into the mast of the ship.
The City of New York and USS New York will be inextricably linked in much more than name alone, said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“I know that the ship and her crew will carry out its missions with the same courage, resolve and resilience that New Yorkers and all Americans showed in the wake of tragedy.
“USS New York is not only a fitting tribute to the spirit of our great city, the proud might of our nation’s military and the expertise craftsmanship - it is also a lasting memorial to all those who perished on 9/11 and a reminder of our collective duty to build a more peaceful world for future generations,” said Bloomberg.
“It was an amazing experience," said Sgt. Joshua Wiseman, a SPMAGTF-26 network specialist. "To see how thoroughly this ship has touched the people of New York has truly strengthened my understanding of the resiliency of all Americans.”