9/11, the terrorist attacks that took the lives of almost 3,000 people on September 11, 2001, has a special meaning for the officers and crew on the USS New York, a San Antonio class amphibious dock transport. Parts of the ship, the stem and some of the hull, were built from recycled steel from the wreckage of the World Trade Center. The officers and crew will hold a special commemoration at the New York on the anniversary of 9/11 at her homeport at Navy Station Mayport in Florida.
Task & Purpose, a periodical that reports on stories and issues that matter to veterans, tells the story about how the USS New York became a floating, living memorial to the people who lost their lives on 9/11.
“The scrap had been located at the Staten Island landfill; it is believed to have been from the south tower. On Veterans Day 2002, the Intrepid Air-Sea-Space Museum presented it on behalf of the City of New York to Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, according to the Navy.
Navy engineers determined it was possible to use thousands of pounds of the salvaged steel for the bow stem casting, and the molten steel was cast Sept. 9, 2003, at the Amite Foundry and Machine in Amite, La. The steel was treated and about 7.5 tons of it was smelted for the part of the ship that cuts through the water.”
The New York’s bow stem, the part of the ship that resides just below the water line to the front, is made from the steel that was recovered from the World Trade Center. But there are other constant reminders of the second day of infamy throughout the ship. A steel plate recovered from the World Trade Center is on display above one of the most used passageways along with a firefighter’s helmet.
During the daily prayer, the ship’s chaplain chooses the name of one victim of 9/11 to memorialize. Thus, a Navy tradition that will last so long as the United States Navy endures.
The USS New York has two companion ships that also contain steel from the World Trade Center. The USS Arlington is named for the location of the Pentagon, which also came under attack on 9/11. The USS Somerset is named after a town near a lonely field in Pennsylvania where another airliner, Flight 93, crashed in the midst of a doomed effort by the passengers to retake the plane from the terrorists.
Surface ships were chosen to commemorate the 9/11 attacks because they would be easy for civilians to visit on tours when they are in port. However, the ceremony that will commemorate the attacks is not open to the public.
The New York is an amphibious dock transport, designed to carry elements of a Marine expeditionary force to a combat zone. She is capable of transporting nearly 700 Marines, having a crew of 28 officers and 322 enlisted personnel. She carries heavy machine guns and missile launchers to support a forced landing. The ship contains a variety of assault boats, some air-cushioned, and helicopters, and tilt-rotor aircraft.
The USS New York was christened in 2008 and was commissioned in 2009. Her first active deployment took place in the Straits of Hormuz and in Jordan as part on an ongoing military exercise in 2012 to ensure security in the Persian Gulf and surrounding areas as part of a task force that included the USS Iowa Jima and the USS Gunston Hall.
In 2014 the New York transported a captured terrorist named Ahmed Abu Khattala to the United States for trial. Abu Khattala is suspected of being the mastermind behind the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi that took the lives of four Americans, including the ambassador to Libya. The terrorist had been captured by a special operations raid at his seaside villa in the North African country.
In 2017, the ship participated in relief operations off the Florida coast in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Irma was one of three storms that ravaged Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico that year. After ravaging numerous islands in the Caribbean, it hit Florida, causing around 90 deaths and many billions of dollars in damage.
Ironically, the USS New York arrived 16 years to the day from the 9/11 terrorist attacks.