Ship built with WTC steel christened today


Steel from the World Trade Center was melted down in a foundry in Amite, La., to make a new warship for the US Navy according to AP.  The New York, an amphibious assault ship built for the Navy and incorporating steel recovered from the collapsed World Trade Center, was christened Saturday at the New Orleans-area shipyard.

When the World Trade Center was demolished and nearly 2,800 people were killed on Sept. 11, 2001, the plans for the $700 ship were already in the works but it had not yet been assigned a name. Several months after the attack, New York Gov. George Pataki petitioned the Navy to commemorate the tragedy by naming the ship USS New York since its primary role would include fighting terrorism.  Navy Secretary Gordon England, in announcing the decision to name the ship, said that the New York would “project American power to the far corners of the Earth and support the cause of freedom well into the 21st century.”  Other similar warships scheduled for construction include the USS Arlington, named for the location of the Pentagon, also struck by a hijacked jetliner on Sept. 11, and the USS Somerset, named for the county in Pennsylvania where United Flight 93 crashed after its passengers fought off the terrorists who had hijacked the plane.

The incomplete vessel was anchored at Avondale on the Mississippi River just west of New Orleans when Katrina struck on Aug. 29, 2005.  The New York escaped serious damage and construction resumed two weeks later.  At the shipyard in Avondale, Northrop Grumman used to employ 6,500 people.  Many of them had lost their homes during the hurricane.  About 5,500 have returned to the job to work on the USS New York and three other ships. “Their dedication and devotion to duty has been, to say the least, epic,” said Philip Teel, head of the ship systems division for Northrop Grumman. About 500 people are working on the New York, and most of them were back on the job two weeks after Hurricane Katrina pounded the Gulf Coast last summer.

The $1 billion, 25,000-ton vessel is 684 feet long and 105 feet wide. It can carry a crew of 360 sailors and 700 Marines who can be delivered to shore by helicopters and landing craft.  USS New York’s prospective commanding officer is Cmdr. F. Curtis Jones, a native New Yorker. It is to be commissioned, essentially added to the fleet, next year. It could be used as part of peaceful missions or as part of war, said Adm. Gary Roughead, the Navy’s chief of operations.