USS New York Visits New York
The phoenix, the mythical bird which was consumed by fire only to rise up again out of the ashes, was an appropriate choice to grace the crest of a new $ 1 billion addition to the American naval fleet. The bird rises from the Twin Towers, with the motto, “Never Forget” at the base.
With a crew of just over 360 sailors and marines, the 25,000 ton, as long as two football fields, vessel, built in Norfolk Virginia, arrived in New York City on Monday, November 2, 2009 to what possibly was a bitter-sweet greeting. Lavar Johnson, a petty officer first class, who grew up in Yonkers, commented,
I’ve seen this view before. It’s just more significant now.
Its crew had been up before 7:00 a.m., lining the deck, in order to not miss the sight of the New York skyline. Many will serve as tour guides for the public, as the ship remains in dock until Veterans’ Day.
While the skyline was their focus, the USS New York was the focal point for numerous New Yorkers, from the captain of a small harbour boat, which guided the ship up the Hudson River, to those following in the air in helicopters, and those on the river in police boats, barges, fireboats, tugs and recreation craft which trailed the vessel as it sailed the Upper West Side.
It paused long enough for its crew to salute Ground Zero, and then continued on to dock in the harbour next to The Intrepid, Sea, Air and Space Museum. There the ship and crew received a 21 gun salute and the victorious cheers of firefighters, bagpipers, survivors, and family members, united by the tragedy from 2001.
Lee Ielpi, who lost his son, a firefighter that infamous day, said,
What better way for our young men and women that are going to be on the USS New York to feel the spirit of our country than to have this ship have the steel in the bow that represents not the bad but the good of our country.
The ship will remain in New York City until Veterans’ Day. Then it will return to Norfolk, Virginia, where it was constructed, remaining there for a year as sailors train onboard. After that, it will be used to transport Marines and army machinery around the world, as well as be deployed to disaster locations with necessary supplies.
What a sight and experience it must have been for observers of the 9/11 terrorist attack, to watch eight years later, with a sense of hope and overcoming spirit, this naval phoenix arise from its historical ashes. That is an accomplishment they will never forget.