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USS New York hoping for grand New Orleans send-off

October 8th, 2009

Filed under: News — admin @ 5:51 am

By Paul Purpura, The Times-Picayune | October 07, 2009, 8:38PM

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The ship’s motto is:’Strength forged through sacrifice. Never forget.’Built with almost eight tons of steel salvaged from the World Trade Center, felled during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the $1.2 billion USS New York departs Northrop Grumman about 7 a.m., and is expected to pass near the French Quarter around 8:15 a.m.

As the USS New York winds down the Mississippi River from Avondale on Tuesday, Oct. 13, en route to its namesake city, local business leaders hope the levees are lined with well-wishers to give the ship’s crew a New Orleans farewell.

“We think that because of this ship’s special nature, it deserves a special send-off, ” said Lola Lass, president of the Greater New Orleans Executives Association, which is organizing the “Line the Levees” event.

She noted the ship’s motto: “Strength forged through sacrifice. Never forget,” and its analogous ties to the New Orleans region, whose shipbuilders, despite setbacks caused by Hurricane Katrina four years ago, invested sweat in building a vessel that honors a national tragedy.

“We want them to know we will never forget, because as New Orleanians, we know what it’s like to be forgotten, ” Lass said. “As New Orleanians, we can equate that to some of the things we lost in Katrina.”

From the Moonwalk to the Riverwalk on the east bank, and at Algiers Point and spots from Gretna to Belle Chasse on the West Bank, the association is hoping that thousands of people participate. The group will distribute about 2,000 American flags for the event.

Sailors will be posted on the Navy pier in Algiers to pay respects to the passing ship, said Capt. Brian Harrison, commander of Naval Support Activity, where the Navy was exploring whether military protocol allows a formal gun salute in light of the World Trade Center steel.

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Thousands of Northrop Grumman shipbuilders and their family members filled the pier at the Avondale shipyard last week to tour the USS New York amphibious transport dock Navy ship. A similar display will occur on the ship, where sailors will be posted on the bridge wings, said Ensign Timothy Gorman, the ship’s public affairs officer. The crew will not formally “man the rails, ” a Navy tradition in which sailors line the outer decks.

“We’ll be saying goodbye as well,” Gorman said. “The crew’s had a good time in New Orleans. They’ve enjoyed visiting the city.”

The city of New York gave Northrop Grumman steel from the World Trade Center in 2002. Amite Foundry and Machine Inc., in Tangipahoa Parish, melted the steel and cast the bow stem, the foremost part of the ship that cuts through the water. The bow stem was barged to Avondale.

At least the sixth Navy ship to carry the New York name, the 684-foot-long LPD 21, or amphibious transport dock ship, is designed to carry 800 Marines, combat gear and helicopters. Its commissioning is scheduled for Nov. 7 in New York.

After the commissioning and the crew’s participation in a Veterans Day parade on Nov. 11, the New York returns to its home port in Norfolk, Va., to begin certifications before it joins the fleet.

“We don’t anticipate being on deployment until late 2010, ” Gorman said.

The New York is the first of three amphibious transport dock ships to be named for sites associated with the Sept. 11 attacks. The Somerset, named for the Pennsylvania county where a hijacked airplane crashed, is being built in Avondale, and the Arlington, named for the Pentagon crash, will be built at Northrop Grumman’s shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss.

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Paul Purpura can be reached at ppurpura@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3791.

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The future USS New York LPD-21 under construction at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems’ shipyard in Avondale, LA, will be the fifth amphibious transport dock of the San Antonio class. The ship was named New York after the state and incorporates in its construction steel salvaged from the World Trade Centers. Her ship motto is "Never Forget." "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 Sept. 11 and the courage and strength New Yorkers showed.” This will be the seventh U.S. ship named New York.

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