Tuesday, November 03, 2009

New York Arrives in Big Apple

The amphibious dock landing ship Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) New York (LPD 21) transits New York Harbor past the Statue of Liberty. The ship has 7.5 tons of steel from the World Trade Center in her bow and will be commissioned Nov. 7 in New York City. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Eric M. Durie/Released)

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Rachael L. Leslie, Pre-Commissioning Unit New York Public Affairs

PCU NEW YORK, At Sea (NNS) -- The future USS New York (LPD 21) arrived in the Big Apple Nov. 2, to hundreds of cheering New Yorkers lined up along the waterfront near the World Financial Center.

The ship left its homeport of Naval Station Norfolk, Va., Oct. 29 to make the voyage to its namesake state for a ten-day long celebration and a commissioning ceremony scheduled Nov. 7.

The ship's Sailors, embarked Marines and naval Reservists manned the rails in full dress uniform at 6 a.m. for the historical transit down the Hudson River. The first event on the crew's busy schedule was a 21-gun salute rendered as the ship sailed past ground zero.

"The salute made me feel proud to be here, and a part of this," said Pfc. Justin Tullock, an embarked Marine with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 26. "It really pumped me up and made me feel like we're really doing something great here."

The night prior to the ship's trip up the Hudson River, the crew was honored with a visit from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He visited with the Sailors and Marines on board, and watched a little of the World Series game on the mess decks.

The ship has been a long time coming. It began to come to life in 2001 when New York Governor George Pataki asked the Secretary of the Navy to name one of the new LPD 17-class warships after the state for its sacrifices of those who perished in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The ship's builders, the Navy and the crew embraced the name and the responsibility that comes with it.

"I've been working on this for four years, and it's exciting to see the actual ship almost complete," said retired Rear Adm. Robert A. Ravitz, co-chairman of the ship's commissioning committee.

For many on board New York, Nov. 2 represents bringing a piece of something lost on that tragic day home to the state of New York.

"I was talking to the head of the 9/11 committee earlier, and he said that for the city it sorts of brings it all together," said Ravitz. "We really want this to be a celebration for the ship and its crew. They have a connection to 9/11, and we will host two receptions for first responders and their families on board this week, but this day is for celebration."

The ship arrived at Pier 88 in Manhattan at 10 a.m., followed by a welcome ceremony held on the pier. The New York Military Militia and bagpipers presented the colors at the ceremony.

"I visited this ship in Mississippi when it was being built and it was impressive then, but now it's even better," said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "After being on board last night, I can see this ship is a lot like a New Yorker; it's strong, independent and proud, and don't even think about getting in her way."

Seven and a half tons of steel recovered from the World Trade Center wreckage can be found within the ship's hull, and the ship's seal displays representations of the twin towers and incorporates many other symbols and colors meant to honor first responders from the New York Police Department and Port Authority of New Jersey and New York.

Events throughout the following days will include two receptions for 9/11 first responders and their families, a trip to ground zero for the ship's crew and the ship's commissioning ceremony Nov. 7.

USS New York is scheduled to leave New York City Nov. 12 to return to its homeport of Naval Station Norfolk.

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