By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
Nov. 7, 2009 - A new Navy ship named in honor of the courage displayed by New York City's residents during and after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks received its official commission today. The USS New York recalls "the searing memories of Sept. 11" as well as "the bravery of the rescuers, the resolve of the survivors, the compassion of this city and the patriotism of this great country," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said during the ship's commissioning ceremony at New York City harbor. Clinton was a member of the U.S. Senate representing New York state during 9/11.
Part of the bow, or front, of the new ship, Clinton said, is constructed of 7.5 tons of melted-down steel taken from the wreckage of the World Trade Center's twin towers that were destroyed during the terrorist attacks.
The motto of the USS New York, Clinton said, is "Strength Forged through Sacrifice: Never Forget."
No one "will ever forget the image of twisted girders and shattered beams looming above the smoldering pile" of wreckage, Clinton said.
The USS New York is a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship. It was christened March 1 in a New Orleans' shipyard by Dotty England, the ship's sponsor and wife of former Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England.
The USS New York and its crew, Clinton said, will join in the fight against terrorism and extremism and also perform humanitarian missions worldwide.
The new ship's first commander is Navy Cmdr. F. Curtis Jones, a native of Binghamton, N.Y. The vessel has a crew of more than 350 sailors and can transport a landing force of 800 Marines and their equipment.
Clinton was accompanied at the ceremony by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus; Navy Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations; Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James T. Conway; and other senior officials.
Mabus hailed the USS New York as "a visible testament to our resilience, to the character of this city, to the strength of this country."
The 9/11 attacks, Mabus said, failed to destroy neither America's spirit nor its resolve to defeat worldwide extremism.
"And, that's what this ship represents," he said.
Mabus saluted the men and women who comprise the New York's crew.
"The nation and our Navy are incredibly proud of you and all that you have done to prepare the New York for her operational life," Mabus said of the ship's crew. "You have begun to shape the spirit and the soul of this ship, just as surely as the builders laid the keel, placed the engines, [and] installed the weapons."
The New York and her sailors and Marines are now "ready to sail in harm's way, on any point on any of the world's oceans, to prevent conflict, when possible, and to win decisively, when necessary," Roughead said.
The U.S. flag that waves above the New York's decks, Roughead said, serves "as a symbol and a message of freedom, of commitment and of resolve."
As the New York embarks on her maiden voyage, Conway said, the warship "will carry the spirit, the determination, and the defiance that has always been America."
And, though terrorists attacked the American homeland eight years ago, they "will not change who we are or what we believe," Conway vowed.