After three years of construction at Avondale, people lined both sides of the Mississippi to pay tribute to a vessel that was born out of the steel that was once the framework for the nations tallest towers, the Twin Towers. 7 ½ tons worth of its steel was used to craft the ships bow stem. Now, completely built, painted and equipped, The USS New York was cheered on by thousands as it headed for New York City where it will be commissioned on November 7th.
The New York set sail down the Mississippi River, through downtown New Orleans and eventually to the Gulf, where it will eventually round Florida and head up the Atlantic seaboard.
As it meandered down the Mississippi, celebrations of pride and outpourings of tribute overwhelmed the thousands who lined the banks of the Mississippi and gathered at several designated locations where the ships builders, Northup-Grumma, and local civic associations distributed three thousand American flags which were raised in defiance of those who attacked our nation and brought down the steel that was used to make the majestic ship floating past them and waved in satisfaction and hope.
Two separate 21 gun salutes were provided during its exit from New Orleans and the Mississippi. Sailors along the Admiral’s Pier at the Naval Support Activity joined with the Navy Band New Orleans which played “Anchors Aweigh” for the New York as she passed by. And in In Belle Chasse, near the Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base’s main entrance and across from the Naval Federal Credit Union, another 21 gun salute was offered by sailors. A military color guard that was also present, honored the passing ship.
Along the way, the New York was cheered on by High School Marching Bands and when passing Gretna it encountered Gretna city employees who joined with the city‘s first responders who lined levees and sounded their sirens in honor of those who perished on 9/11. This was perhaps the most fitting tribute of all. It was one that evoked the USS New York’s motto, “Never Forget”. All naval ships have a tradition of taking on mottos and the New York’s motto is particularly poignant. It echo’s the sentiments of both a sad saga in our past and the need for vigilance in our future. The “Never forget” motto of a ship that used the wreckage and rubble that were the remnants of the events that took the lives of Americans on 9/11, and used it for its own construction, is a fact that draws our minds to those lives lost and reminds us of the need for the type of vigilance that can prevent another 9/11 from occurring.
The USS New York will now become a part of those vigilant efforts required to prevent future attacks. It will be another anchor in an arsenal meant to protect lives and preserve freedom.
Within 2,000 tons of having the same displacement as a battleship, The New York is considered an amphibious transport dock ship in the LPD 17 San Antonio Class. LPD stands for landing platform deck and this is the navy’s fifth of such a class. Officially recognized as the USS New York LPD-21, the ship is designed for transporting troops into a war zones, using landing craft and transport helicopters. But LPD-21 is designed with some of the latest and most advanced technologies imaginable. It is propelled by Turbocharged Marine Diesel Engines that have Inboard Rotating Rolls-Royce Controllable Pitch Propellers that move it at speed of 24 miles per hours. As for the interior design electronics were used to record the movements of average Marines in full battle gear that were run through the passageways of a three-dimensional model. The program highlighted everything the sample marine hit. This enabled designers to tweak things such as piping systems and power distribution and to move certain other systems so that Marines could move through the passageways unhindered by unintended obstacles thereby enabling the crews and service members to perform their missions with greater efficiency.
The ship could transport up to as many 800 but its crew will consist of 360 Sailors and 3 Marines. Its homeport will eventually be Norfolk, Virginia but the New York will not be going there until after it is commissioned in New York City.
Although that is expected to occur on the 7th of November, the New York will arrive at the entrance of New York Harbor on November 2nd,, after passing under the Verrazano Bridge along with an armada of other vessels from local municipalities, ferry companies and Federal, State and City entities. Many of the boats and ships involved in the welcoming flotilla will be vessels that were involved in firefighting and evacuation efforts during the tragic events of 9/11.
According to officials involved “they all come to pay respect to what was lost and to welcome what has returned. It is here, at this time and place that we draw a line in the sand and say, We Will Never Forget. Many events are being planned for the week with public visitation of this great ship a priority. As schedules firm up we will post that information.”
Until then, the emotional voyage of a ship that has risen out of the ashes of hate and tragedy, will build up to the day when the steel in its bow, returns to where it originated from. After coming full circle, the USS New York will then be prepared for its commission into a job that will have it defend our nation from ever experiencing the type of events that make a vigilant defense necessary.