Naval Vessel Carrying More Than New York’s Name to Visit NYC
Starting on November 8, New York will host its namesake U.S. naval vessel as part of five days of the City’s observance of Veterans Day. The hull of the USS New York is forged in part from steel salvaged from the World Trade Center site after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The vessel will pass Lower Manhattan on Wednesday morning around 11am, before berthing at Pier 88 (near 48th Street on the Hudson River waterfront) around noon.
The USS New York (LPD 21) is an amphibious transport dock, which means that its primary mission is to carry Marine Corps personnel, equipment, and helicopters to flashpoints around the world, where they can be inserted quickly and from close range into missions ranging from humanitarian relief to amphibious assaults.
Naming U.S. Navy vessels after any of the 50 states is a distinction usually reserved for submarines. But in 2002, then-New York Governor George Pataki requested that the Navy consider making an exception, and christen in honor of the Empire State a ship under construction and likely to see action in the war on terror that was then in its early stages. (Two of the USS New York’s sister ships, the USS Arlington and the USS Somerset, are named for the counties in Virginia and Pennsylvania where planes that were part of the same attacks crashed on September 11.)
“We are absolutely honored to return to our namesake city and look forward to engaging with the local community during our visit,” said Capt. Benjamin Oakes, commanding officer of USS New York. “It’s especially meaningful to be in our city during Veterans Week where we have the opportunity to thank our nation’s veterans for their service and sacrifice.”
First Chief Petty Officer and Hospital Corpsman Alonzo Dunkentell, right, speaking in a video posted on the ship’s Facebook page, says, “I’m most excited about the USS New York being in New York, because we’re going to give sailors an opportunity to reenlist while in New York.”
The vessel also has a more deeply personal connection to its eponymous metropolis. Seaman Gianna Curcio’s mother, who was pregnant with twins in the fall of 2001, was working in the World Trade Center on the day of the attacks. Narrowly escaping with her life, she later suffered a miscarriage, but subsequently conceived and delivered Ms. Curcio, left, who grew up on Staten Island, and enlisted in the Navy after graduating high school. She now serves on the USS New York.
In addition to a hull that contains seven and a half tons of structural steel pulled from the ruins of the Twin Towers, the USS New York carries many relics of September 11, 2001, including a New York fire fighter’s helmet, and a steel plate pulled from the site. The vessel’s motto is “Strength Forged through Sacrifice, Never Forget.” Command Master Chief Petty Officer Ben Hodges reflected, “you can’t help when you walk around the ship to notice all the things meant to remind you of why you serve.”
Many of the ship’s crew of 400 will participate in the Veteran’s Day Parade on Tuesday. And the USS New York will be open to public visitors on Sunday, November 12, from 8am to 3pm. Admission is free, on a first-come, first-served basis.