The USS NEW YORK

Saturday, March 1, 2008
Today, in Avondale, LA, Mrs. Dotty England, the wife of Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, will christen the NEW YORK, LPD-21, a San Antonio class amphibious transport dock ship. Her commissioning ceremony is scheduled for Fall 2008, where she will come alive and officially become the USS NEW YORK.

What makes this event unique is the fact that the NEW YORK's bow stem was smelted from steel taken from the rubble of the World Trade Center. Governor George Pataki worked to acquire the steel and deliver it to the Amite Foundry and Machine, Inc., Amite, La., as a gift from the citizens of New York to the Navy, where crews worked to embed this bit of history into the USS NEW YORK's future:


The ship's motto is "Never Forget."

There may be some who think that such symbolism doesn't matter, and that the Navy's decision to honor the city of New York in this way is a PR stunt.

As a former professional sailor in the US Navy, I can say without reservation that it does matter, and even if the idea was executed as a PR stunt, the sailors and marines who will serve on her won't consider it so.


Members of the Armed Forces are aware - acutely aware - that the events of September 11th profoundly changed their professions and life's calling. There is no longer such a thing as "peace-time service." Spending more time away from your friends and family than with them is the new norm. Every day you live through your service increases your chances that the next day you won't.

The symbolism of using WTC steel in this vessel, along with the motto chosen, will allow the sailors and marines who serve on her a point of pride in their service that other service members will envy.

When I was active duty, I served on the USS JASON, a heavy repair ship home ported in San Diego. She carried a crew of 900, and was the oldest ship in the fleet for the last year I was aboard. As such, she was entitled to fly the "Don't Tread on Me" flag, prior to the time when all Navy ships became authorized to fly that flag. She served with distinction in every conflict since her commissioning, including World War II.

For some, those accomplishments may engender a shrug and a "so what?" For those of us who served on her, it engendered a sense of history, a connection to those who served before. Many times I would be on the signal bridge of that ship, looking at the ship's bell, wondering how many sailors had done the same. She was an old, fat cow, but she was our old, fat cow, and I was honored to serve on her.

So, NEW YORK, congratulations on your christening. May you sail fast and furious, and deliver your marines safely.

Revision note: The christening will take place in Avondale, LA, rather than NYC, as previously published.

9 comments:

Nathan said...

I'm pretty sure the christening is taking place in the shipyard in LA, not in NYC.

But its still pretty cool.

Janiece Murphy said...

Thanks, Nathan - I've corrected the entry and added a more recent picture of the ship.

Jeri said...

Very cool! I must have been oblivious to the press, because this is the first I've heard of the idea - the metal from the World Trade Center being used in the boat. What a great inspiration.

Michelle K said...

That's lovely.

I'd say that since this is the first we've heard about it, it's hard to call it a publicity stunt.

WVU/Morgantown has the mast and bell from the USS West Virginia, and I always feel a sense of awe walking by it.

MWT said...

Hmmm... it never occurred to me that the military would engage in publicity stunts. Politicians? Celebrities? Other people constantly in the public eye? Sure.

But not the Navy. Is someone calling it one?

Janiece Murphy said...

MWT, the Navy has whole oganizations that work on and massage the Navy's public image. The Armed Forces are absolutely capable of executing a publicity stunt. I just don't think that's the case here.

The Mechanicky Gal said...

USS Jason was the best of my 5 ships.
Great crew, and I even liked the CO/XO (the Morrocco Mole one NOT the Swauger-shit).
This is a great thing. I do get a little tired of teh "We support our troops" stuff, when 90% of teh people have NO IDEA what it is to support troops. I also have a hearty dislike for the maudlin remembrances every year, just for the sake of doing something to have a show. Make it meaningful people!
Rant over.

Janiece Murphy said...

TMG, lip service pisses me off, too, but I'm a bit more sentimental than you, I think.

And Swauger-shit. Yeah, that guy was a complete ass-hat. I laughed my ass off when he failed his command-at-sea screening.

Ah, sweet justice...

Carol Elaine said...

I hadn't heard of it until now, either, so I'm thinking this isn't a publicity stunt. I tend to be cynical of a lot of this sort of thing, to, but my PR BS detector isn't beeping here. Indeed, my cynical side posits that, were this to be a PR stunt, the christening would have been done closer to 09/11/08, to capitalize on the connection, instead of this past Saturday.

Here's a bit of interesting trivia from Wikipedia: "Oddly enough, a previous holder of the name, USS New York (BB-34), had its keel laid on September 11, 1911, exactly 90 years to the day before the WTC was attacked."