[USS New York, A.P. Photo]
Associated Press: The USS New York, an amphibious assault ship built with scrap steel from the ruins of the World Trade Center, was christened Saturday as a source of strength and inspiration for the nation.
Thousands of people, including friends and families of those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, gathered near the hulking gray ship, trimmed in red, white and blue banners.
The bow stem, which contains 7.5 tons of steel from the site, bore a shield with two gray bars to symbolize the twin towers and a banner over that declaring “Never Forget,” a slogan among New Yorkers.
“May God bless this ship and all who sail on her,” 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 in, and touched by, the attacks peppered the ceremony, held under the blazing sun and broadcast on large screens. It all brought back painful memories for New York Police Lt. Matt Murphy. But the reason for his being here, though, was a source of pride, he said.
“I tell you, it’s a fantastic day. Sometimes you think you’re over something,” he said, his eyes welling up as he looked off toward the ship, “and then you realize you’re not completely.”
Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, husband to Dotty, told the crowd that ship names provide a legacy, and that for their crews they serve as a source of strength and inspiration.
Mission: USS New York is the fifth amphibious transport dock of the San Antonio class. The ship will be used to transport and land Marines, their equipment and supplies, by embarked air cushion or conventional landing craft and Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles amphibious assault vehicles, augmented by helicopters or vertical take off and landing aircraft. USS New York will support amphibious assault, special operations, or expeditionary warfare missions throughout the first half of the 21st Century.
Name: The ship was named New York after the state and incorporates in its construction steel salvaged from the World Trade Centers. “We’re very proud that the twisted steel from the WTC towers will soon be used to forge an even stronger national defense,” New York Gov. George Pataki spoke in 2002. “The USS New York will soon be defending freedom and combating terrorism around the globe, while also ensuring that the world never forgets the evil attacks of September 11 and the courage and strength New Yorkers showed.” This will be the seventh U.S. ship named New York.