Artifacts of History and Heroes

September 29th, 2008

Filed under: News — admin @ 6:08 am

On the USS Arlington, Pentagon Steel Will Recall the County’s Darkest Day

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 18, 2008; Page VA01

The eight crooked and rusty strips of steel and handful of broken bolts in a pile on a table outside the office of the secretary of the Navy last week looked unremarkable.

But for the Arlington County police, fire and rescue personnel who rushed to the burning Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, the survivors of those killed and the people who work in and around the center of the nation’s defense, the scraps — and the journey they are set to take — are powerful artifacts.

The metal pieces, which held up the Pentagon‘s stone exterior before American Airlines Flight 77 struck, were dedicated to Arlington officials in a small ceremony on the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks and will be displayed aboard the USS Arlington, a vast amphibious assault and transport ship that will soon have its keel laid in Pascagoula, Miss.

“I was here for pretty much two weeks after it hit,” said Arlington police Capt. Kevin M. Reardon, who was among the rush of responders. Seven years later, his son has just finished basic training and his county is being linked even more closely to the memory of the attack.

“We’re tying it to the military and showing our support at the same time,” Reardon said. “Every time they mention the military, it hits a special place in my heart.”

The metal, along with a small piece of limestone from a battered Pentagon corridor, will be placed on the quarterdeck and near the ship’s gangway, where the crew and others will encounter it easily.

“It’s the tangibility of it,” said Sen. James Webb (D-Va.). “It gives them something they can directly touch.”

Webb, a former Navy secretary, had been in the Pentagon having breakfast with the commandant of the Marine Corps., Gen. James L. Jones, on Sept. 11, 2001. In the early confusion of that morning, one of the general’s aides came in and said “it looks like a missile” exploded into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

Jones asked Webb whether he wanted to stay and watch the unfolding events on CNN, but Webb drove to his office overlooking the Iwo Jima Memorial. Once there, “I heard the thunk of the impact of the aircraft. The building smoldered and burned for days,” Webb said. “It was a profound personal experience, as well as a national experience.”

Four years later, Arlington officials took a side trip to the Northrop Grumman shipyard in Pascagoula while doing Katrina relief work and were awed by seeing what the USS Arlington will look like. The San Antonio LPD 17 class ships can carry tanks and helicopters as well as troops and are meant to evade radar.

“I’ve never been on anything that large in my life,” said County Board member Barbara A. Favola. Having a ship named after Arlington brings “an incredible amount of patriotism,” she said.

The idea emerged to include steel from the Pentagon on board, evoking what had been done with the USS New York, another San Antonio class ship that included melted steel from the World Trade Center in its construction. (A third ship named to commemorate the 2001 attacks, the USS Somerset, will include steel from a crane that stood near the crash site in Somerset, Pa.)

But the Pentagon, built in wartime, didn’t use much steel, which went to more urgent needs such as tanks and ships. Finding and retrieving the steel from the area affected by the Sept. 11 attacks became an arduous, bureaucratic task.

“I assumed this would be relatively simple,” said Frank Shafroth, a former Arlington official who is chief of staff to Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.).

It took two years. Then he got the call from Ralph Newton, a senior Pentagon facilities official who had managed to secure the rusted pieces.

“When Ralph called me and said, ‘This is sitting on my desk,’ it ended a long, miserable trial. At that point, you’re happy it’s there,” Shafroth said. The effort, he said, builds “a bond between Arlington, the Pentagon, the people on that ship, and the first responders and the family members who lost someone that day.”

“You understand how much meaning this will have for them,” Shafroth said.

Navy Secretary Donald C. Winter, left, Sen. James Webb (D-Va.), Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), Arlington County Board Chairman Walter J. Tejada and Rep. James P. Moran Jr. at the dedication of the steel from the Pentagon to the county.

Navy Secretary Donald C. Winter, left, Sen. James Webb (D-Va.), Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), Arlington County Board Chairman Walter J. Tejada and Rep. James P. Moran Jr. at the dedication of the steel from the Pentagon to the county. (By Michael Laris — The Washington Post)

The Pentagon has the most prominent and public memorial to those who died there, but bits of steel from the building will serve as a reminder on the USS Arlington.

The Pentagon has the most prominent and public memorial to those who died there, but bits of steel from the building will serve as a reminder on the USS Arlington. (By Bill O’leary — The Washington Post)

The USS San Antonio is similar to the Arlington, soon to be built.

The USS San Antonio is similar to the Arlington, soon to be built. (By Mass Communication Specialist 2Nd Class Jason R. Zalasky — U.s. Navy)

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Northrop Grumman awaits fate of military ship contracts

June 16th, 2008

Filed under: News — admin @ 5:40 am

by Jaime Guillet

Northrop Grumman employees stand in front of the companys newest ship, the LPD New York, which was built at Northrops Avondale facility. (Photo by Jaime Guillet)

Northrop Grumman employees stand in front of the companys newest ship, the LPD New York, which was built at Northrops Avondale facility. (Photo by Jaime Guillet)

The Northrop Grumman Corp. shipbuilding sector has undergone major renovations, but company executives say they will have little effect on the 268-acre Avondale shipyard.

On Jan. 28, Northrop consolidated its two former shipbuilding sectors Newport News, Va., and Ship Systems, which includes Avondale and Pascagoula, Miss., into one division Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding.

As the nations sole industrial designer, builder and fuel supplier of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and one of two companies that designs and builds nuclear-powered submarines, Northrops shipbuilding presence in Louisiana is significant. Although headquartered in Los Angeles, Northrops shipbuilding activity in Louisiana accounts for nearly 5,500 jobs and a $168-million economic impact in 2007.

Northrops goal for the recent realignment was to find better ways to deploy our people, capital assets and technology, said C. Michael Petters, Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding president.

(The realignment) is a critical part of our strategy of building ships in the future, Petters said. (Its) four months into the experiment and weve made substantial progress.

While Northrop has consistently talked about a need for more employees at its Avondale yard the past few years, Petters said he is comfortable with its current standing.

All in all, were pretty well staffed in Avondale. Were in pretty good shape, Petters said.

The most significant event in 2007 for both yards was the christening of the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York, which is constructed with 7.5 tons of steel from the World Trade Center destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, said Bill Glenn, a spokesman for the companys Pascagoula facility.

Between the Louisiana and Mississippi shipyards, Northrop continues to work on 12 shipbuilding contracts comprising four classes of ships. The company recently delivered two of the eight security cutters it is building for the U.S. Coast Guard.

In March, Northrop beat out Chicago-based Boeing Co. for a $35 billion-plus contract to build 179 Air Force tankers, the bulk of which should be built in the Gulf Coast area.

(The Air Force tanker) is a big win for us, Petters said. It also means more economic development for the Gulf Coast. Its an even bigger success for this part of the region. Weve very excited about this part of the country.

Northrop Grumman still awaits Congress vote to fund the 10th and 11th Landing Platform Dock-class ships in the $601 billion defense bill for 2009. The company is building the last four DDG51 class destroyers remaining on a 28-ship contract and just received the contract to build one DDG 1000 Navy destroyer.

Petters said the company will deliver two LPD-class ships to the Navy in late 2008 and into 2009.

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Crash site steel eyed for USS Somerset

June 1st, 2008

Filed under: News — admin @ 4:59 pm

Crash site steel eyed for ship
BY KECIA BALThe Tribune-Democrat
Published: May 30, 2008 11:48 pm

SOMERSET As a Mississippi company nears construction on the USS Somerset a Navy ship to be constructed in honor of the Flight 93 heroes officials want to incorporate a piece of the crash site.One option is melting 25 tons of steel from a dragline at the crash site to be used in construction of the Somerset, an amphibious transport dock ship.
A similar idea worked for the USS New York, built as a tribute to those who suffered on Sept. 11, 2001. Part of that ship was built using 21 tons of steel from the former World Trade Center towers.
This has been in the works for a while, Somerset County Commissioner John Vatavuk said. A contractor is to be on site Monday to transport the metal to a smelting plant in Newport News, Va., he said.

But a spokesman with Northrop Grumman, which built the New York and is building the USS Somerset and USS Arlington, could not confirm the news.

He said officials have been working to find a way to incorporate each site into the 684-foot-long vessels. Construction on the Somerset has not started.

Flight 93 Ambassador Dave Zwick said the dragline a crane with a bucket attached that is used in coal mining has been a part of the crash site from the beginning and is one of the scenes visitors remember. The machine, about a half-mile north of the crash site, was parked there a couple years before Sept. 11, 2001, and has been idle since.

Zwick helped propose the idea of using steel from the machine to county officials a few months ago.

I thought it would be appropriate, with our mining heritage, he said.

Zwick had read about the attempts to use artifacts from the other crash sites in those vessels.

I thought, if they are making one for Somerset, they ought to have something from Somerset, Zwick added.

In 2004, Navy Secretary Gordon England announced that USS Somerset would be the name of the ninth San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship.

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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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