USS New York: Tragic pieces transformed into fighter vessel

September 15th, 2008

Filed under: News — admin @ 5:25 pm
Top Photo
Mourners pay their respects during Thursday’s observance at Ground Zero.

Normally, I try to avoid the rah-rah feel-good patriotic spiels favored by some pundits. They’re too cheap, too easy, too pandering. But one year from now, the amphibious transport ship USS New York is being commissioned in the city for which it was named, and that simple fact says more about the character of this nation than a thousand country songs.

Truth be told, this landing platform dock (LPD-21) isn’t much of a beauty. She isn’t sleek or especially majestic — in pictures she kind of looks like a big gray box. But she’s a warship, built to hit the beaches with up to 800 Marines as well as both assault vehicles and helicopters. In other words, if you did something stupid and an LPD is coming your way, you’re in for a world of hurt.

Perhaps the most striking feature of the USS New York’s makeup is the approximately 24 tons of steel from the World Trade Center used in her construction. Scrap metal from the center, destroyed during the 9/11 attacks of 2001, was melted down to make the bow of the hull. The ship’s motto, fittingly enough, is “Never Forget.”

I’m sorry to be such a sap, but there’s a lyrical, almost uniquely American perfection to the idea of taking the ruins from one of the worst days in our history to help build an instrument of vengeance. It was welcome news as we approached the seventh anniversary of 9/11, which is for me usually a season of frustration — an annual reminder of the misdirected follies in Iraq and our failure to apprehend Osama bin Laden.

Don’t get me wrong — it’s still pretty annoying to know bin Laden hasn’t been brought to justice. But this year that frustration is tempered somewhat by the existence of the USS New York. It’s not only a ship of war, but a vessel symbolizing for the world our resolve and tenacity. It’s a reassuring reminder of this country’s strength of character, a demonstration of our ability to, quite literally, pick up the pieces and renew the fight.

A Navy captain at the scene later told the media that when the melted metal was poured into the moulds for the ship’s bow section, “those big rough steelworkers treated it with total reverence.”

“It sounds trite, but I saw it in their eyes,” added Philip Teel, head of the ship systems division for Northrop Grumman, the company that built the ship. “These are very patriotic people, and the fact that the ship has steel from the trade center is a source of great pride. They view it as something incredibly special. They’re building it for the nation.’

One shipbuilder, a guy named Tony Quaglino, was due to retire after 40 years on the job, but he held off for the opportunity to work on the New York. “This is sacred,” he told a reporter.

The ship’s steel was tested yet again in 2005, by Hurricane Katrina. The New York was built and christened in New Orleans, and during the hurricane many of the workers lost their homes. Some had to live at the shipyard afterward during construction, but the ship survived intact.

The New York is a San Antonio-class vessel, a new-and-improved generation of amphibious assault ship so cutting edge that plans call for 12 of the new LPDs to essentially replace 41 ships of the older classes.

Tempered by stubborn determination, baptized by Mother Nature and designed with bad intent, this is going to be a vessel to be reckoned with.

If you ARE in the mood for some artistry, however, I give you Longfellow’s “O Ship of State,” which includes the lines: “We know what Master laid thy keel/What Workmen wrought thy ribs of steel,/Who made each mast, and sail, and rope,/What anvils rang, what hammers beat,/In what a forge and what a heat/Were shaped the anchors of thy hope!”


D. Allan Kerr is such a relic his old ship USS Guam was decommissioned 10 years ago. Kerr may be contacted at

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Navy Christens Future USS New York in Tribute to 9/11 Victims

March 5th, 2008

Filed under: Media,News,Speeches — admin @ 8:33 pm

Ship incorporates steel from the World Trade Center
Last Edited: Sunday, 02 Mar 2008, 5:57 PM EST
Created: Saturday, 01 Mar 2008, 8:55 PM EST

MYFOXNY.COM The U.S. Navy christened a new warship Saturday that pays tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. The amphibious transport dock ship New York is officially named for the state but informally pays tribute to the city and the victims of the attacks. More than seven tons of steel salvaged from the wreckage of the World Trade Center was melted down and used in the construction of the bow stem.

It was named the New York at the request of then-Gov. George Pataki, who wrote a letter to the Navy after the attacks.Thousands of people, including friends and families of 9/11 victims, gathered Saturday at the ceremony at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding facilities outside of New Orleans. The official motto of New York is Never Forget, which is painted on the hull.

This is a special day for a magnificent ship that has a special place in the heart of every American, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England said during the ceremony. On the day the towers fell, all Americans were New Yorkers.

May God bless this ship and all who sail on her, ship sponsor Dotty England said before smashing a bottle of champagne against it, producing a loud thump to go with the spurting liquid and flying streamers.

The diesel-powered 25,000-ton San Antonio class vessel is 684 feet long, 105 feet wide and cost a billion dollars. It is armed with missile launches and two 30-millimeter guns. It will have a crew of 360 sailors and three Marines. It is also designed to transport a landing force of up to 800 Marines. The ship can launch four Sea Knight transport helicopters or two Osprey aircraft.

The prospective commanding officer is Cmdr. F. Curtis Jones who is from Binghamton, N.Y. The New York will be commissioned and added to the fleet next year in a ceremony at New York City, officially becoming the USS New York.

Two more San Antonio ships under construction include the Arlington and the Somerset, named for the other locations affected by Sept. 11: the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., and the field in Somerset, Pa., where United 93 crashed.

It is the fifth ship in the U.S. Navy to be named New York. The last was a battleship that served in both World Wars and was decommissioned in 1946. In addition, one Navy submarine was known as the USS New York City, and served the Navy from 1979 to 1997. with Associated Press and American Forces Press Service reports

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WTC steel lives on in naval warship

February 28th, 2008

Filed under: Media,News — admin @ 3:22 pm

The Record, North Jersey Online,

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The brains behind the use of salvaged World Trade Center steel in a new Navy warship is a Rutherford volunteer firefighter excited about seeing his vision christened this weekend as the USS New York.


Rutherford native Scott Koen championed the use of steel from Ground Zero for the warship.

Her name is New York, but to Scott Koen, she is a phoenix.

The christening will take place Saturday at a Louisiana shipyard with a bottle of champagne smashed across her bow, which contains 24 tons of steel that once towered over Lower Manhattan.

Armed with air-defense missiles and two 30mm guns for close combat, the USS New York is designed for missions that include special operations against terrorists. It can carry a crew of 360 sailors and 700 combat-ready Marines who can reach shore by helicopter and assault craft.

“Eventually, the idea would have occurred to a lot of people,” Koen said. “I just happened to be at the right spot at the right time.”


  • The ship’s motto is “Never Forget.”
  • Commissioning will happen in New York City next year.
  • Top speed is 22 knots.
  • It’s two football fields long.

The right spot was the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City, where Koen had worked as director of operations. And the right man was Bill White, the museum’s president.

“He had asked, ‘What do you think about taking steel from the World Trade Center and actually pouring it into the foundation of ships?’ ” said White, recalling a conversation with Koen from March 2002. “And I said, ‘Oh, my God. That would be unbelievable.’ ”

While enthusiastic about the concept, White said he had some reservations and wondered if the government wanted to keep the steel as evidence. But he fired off an e-mail anyway to Adm. Vern Clark, then-chief of naval operations in the Pentagon.

Several months later, the military tasked Koen with finding the World Trade Center steel.

Koen said he recalled an awkward and now-humorous conversation with a Newark recycler, who had a hard time understanding why a guy from Rutherford wanted WTC scrap. The recycler cooperated once Koen explained the military part.

Then-New York Gov. George Pataki also helped find World Trade Center steel, and asked the Navy to commemorate the terrorist attack by reviving the name New York for a ship whose role would include fighting terrorism.

The $700 million ship that would become USS New York was already on the drawing board on Sept. 11, 2001, but had not been assigned a name.

It’s the fifth in a class of amphibious transport dock ships, which are designed to bring troops into a war zone and then deploy them via helicopters and boats.

Future ships in the class will also carry names commemorating places struck by the Sept. 11 hijackers — USS Arlington, the location of the Pentagon; and USS Somerset, the Pennsylvania county where United Flight 93 crashed after its passengers fought off hijackers.

The last navy ship christened New York was a battleship whose construction began on Sept. 11, 1911 — 90 years to the day that terrorists struck the towers.

For USS New York, construction using the World Trade Center steel happened in September 2003, when steelworkers in Amite, La., poured molds for the bow stem, the first part of the ship to cut through the water.

Koen said the steel will lead the way for USS New York, which will cruise into waters around Manhattan for a commissioning sometime next year.

“To add the steel, it makes a phoenix out of it,” Koen said.


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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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