Ship named in honor of 9/11 christened

By Alan Sayre – The Associated Press
Posted : Saturday Mar 1, 2008 15:28:30 EST

AVONDALE, La. — Standing before the massive New York, Jennifer Adams seemed moved by the spirits of the 2,750 people killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks at the World Trade Center.

“Our angels will watch over the men and women serving on this ship so the events of Sept. 11 will never happen again,” said Adams, who co-founded an association of family members and friends of 2,974 people who died when terrorist-hijacked airliners crashed into the twin towers in Lower Manhattan, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field, and of survivors, recovery workers and volunteers.

The New York, an amphibious assault ship built for the Navy and incorporating steel recovered from the collapsed World Trade Center, will be christened Saturday at the New Orleans-area shipyard where it endured Hurricane Katrina.

The vessel was built by Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding. It is the fifth in the LPD San Antonio class of ships designed to carry Marines into assault operations.

Dotty England, wife of Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, will swing a bottle of champagne from a New York vinyard against its hull in the traditional ceremony. Other dignitaries on hand will include U.S. Rep. Vito Fossella, R-N.Y., chief of naval operations Adm. Gary Roughead and Gen. Robert Magnus, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps.

The $1 billion, 25,000-ton vessel is 684 feet long and 105 feet wide. It can carry a crew of 360 sailors and 700 Marines, who can be delivered to shore by helicopters and landing craft.

When terrorists crashed two airliners into the World Trade Center in 2001, the ship was on the drawing board but had not been assigned a name.

At the request of then-New York Gov. George Pataki, the Navy in 2002 agreed to commemorate the disaster by assigning the name New York. It was then decided that World Trade Center steel would be used in the bow stem, the section of the hull that slices through the water.

More than 20 tons of steel salvaged from the disaster site were brought to Amite Foundry and Machine in Amite, La., where the 7.5-ton part was cast in 2003.

The bow stem was installed in August 2005, shortly before Katrina, and the remaining bow section was lifted into place in March 2006.

“We’ve had other special ships in the Navy — the Constitution, the Iwo Jima, the Pearl Harbor,” Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England said. The New York, he said, will join them in honoring and reminding Americans of a defining moment in history.

The sentiment wasn’t lost on former New York firefighter Lee Ielpi, whose son, Jonathan, was one of 343 firefighters who died in the Sept. 11 disaster. “The ship can’t bring back our loved ones,” he said, but the New York “shows the strength of our country.”

The incomplete vessel was anchored at Avondale on the Mississippi River just west of New Orleans when Katrina struck on Aug. 29, 2005. The New York escaped serious damage and construction resumed two weeks later.

The commissioning ceremony in New York, scheduled in 2009, will be a much bigger ceremony, officials said. The ship will be based at Norfolk, Va.

The New York revives a name held by at least four other Navy ships, including a Spanish-American War-era cruiser, a battleship that served in World Wars I and II — including the Battle of Iwo Jima — and a nuclear submarine retired from the fleet in 1997.

The first three ships of the San Antonio class — San Antonio, New Orleans and Mesa Verde — have been delivered. Green Bay is under final construction at Avondale and is scheduled for sea trials in May. Another ship in the class, the Anchorage, also is building at Avondale.,2933,334332,00.html

AVONDALE, La. — Thousands of people, including families of those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, gathered Saturday for an at-times chilling and rallying service to christen a Navy ship built with twisted steel from the ruins of the World Trade Center.

The hulking grey USS New York, which abruptly rose from the horizon, bore a seal on the bow bearing 7.5 tons of steel from the site. The shield included two gray bars to symoblize the Twin Towers; a banner over that declared “Never Forget.”

Click here for photos.

“May God bless this ship and all who sail on her,” ship sponsor, Dotty England, said before smashing a bottle of champagne against it, producing a loud thump to go with the spurting liquid and flying streamers.

Story after story of lives lost, and touched, by the attacks peppered the ceremony, held under the blazing sun and broadcast on large screens.

“To New York, we say thank you for lending your sacred seal, your name,” U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., said. More importantly was that New York lent its spirit, he said.

Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England said ship names provide a legacy, and for their crews, serve as a source of strength and inspiration.

When the attacks occurred, the ship was planned but had no name. It was named the New York at the request of former New York Gov. George Pataki. The steel from the World Trade Center site is in the part of the ship that splices through the water, leading the way.

“It resurrects the ashes, so to speak, to do great things for our nation,” said Bill Glenn, a spokesman for Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, the ship builder.

The billion-dollar, 25,000-ton vessel is 684 feet long, 105 feet wide. It can carry about 360 sailors and 700 Marines who can be brought ashore via landing craft and helicopter. Its prospective commanding officer is Commander F. Curtis Jones, a native New Yorker. It is to be commissioned next year, said England’s wife, Dotty England, before the christening.

Rep. Vito Fossella, R-N.Y., said Sept. 11th was a turning point in the nation, and will never be forgotten because remnants of the disaster are part of the ship.

“If the USS New York has to follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell, PCO Jones and his crew … have my full support,” he said to a standing ovation.

Click here for more on the ship from the U.S. Navy.


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