The U.S.S. New York, the naval ship forged from World Trade Center steel, pulled out of its berth in Virginia today, beginning a five-day journey toward to its namesake city, where it will be formally commissioned in the Navy Fleet next week.
The New York, named after the city to honor those lost in Sept. 11 attacks, was deliberately imbued with symbolism. Its crest features an image of the Twin Towers behind a rising phoenix and the words “Never Forget. At 684-feet long, the vessel can carry 800 Marines, along with a helicopters and the MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor airplane.
Over the next few days, the ship will make its way home, reaching the city Monday morning. Once here, it will pass under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, and up the Hudson River, past the World Trader Center site, where it will come to a complete stop and receive a 21-gun salute. The ship will then head north, turning around at the George Washington Bridge and docking at Pier 88.
The $1 billion ship was made with 7 1/2 tons of steel from the Twin Towers.
Currently, there are 186 Marines on board, in addition to 359 Navy crew members and 60 reservists. It pulled out of port in New Orleans earlier this month.
New Yorkers on the ship told The New York Times that they were thrilled about sailing into New York harbor, passing under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and approaching the city to a 21-gun salute.
“That is going to be hands down the most amazing feeling to know I’m coming home on the U.S.S. New York,” said Frank Lewis, a Bronx resident and logistical specialist with the Navy Reserve told the Times. “I think that’ll even top the Yankees making the World Series, but we’ll see.”
When terrorist hijackers crashed two jetliners into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, destroying the twin towers and killing nearly 2,800 people, the ship was already on the drawing board. In September 2002, the Defense Department announced the selection of New York as the ship's name, honoring the city and state and those who died in the attacks.
About 7.5 tons of World Trade Center steel was melted at the Bradken Inc. foundry in Amite, La., and used in the New York's bow.
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 and a nuclear submarine retired from the fleet in 1997.
The ship is a San Antonio-class amphibious dock vessel. The first four ships in the series -- the USS San Antonio, USS New Orleans, USS Mesa Verde and USS Green Bay -- are in service. Four other ships in the class ate under construction: Somerset and Anchorage at the Avondale yard, and Arlington and San Diego at Northrop Grumman's yard in Pascagoula, Miss.
Arlington and Somerset also carry names connected to the Sept. 11 attacks: Arlington for the attack on the Pentagon and Somerset for the Pennsylvania county in which United Airlines Flight 93 crashed after being hijacked.