The U.S. Navy has commissioned into its fleet a new assault ship built with tons of steel from the World Trade Center, which was struck down in the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. The USS New York was named after the state to honor the nearly 3,000 victims who died in those attacks. Thousands of people turned out Saturday to watch the vessel become an active part of the Navy.
The motto of the USS New York is "strength forged through sacrifice. Never forget." It is meant to honor the resilience of New Yorkers in the years following the Sept. 11th attack, and more than seven tons of steel from the fallen twin towers are cast into the ship's bow.
Measuring 280 meters and costing more than $1 billion to build, the warship can accommodate 699 troops on a normal deployment, with a surge capacity to accommodate as many as 800 troops. It is designed to launch cargo, troop transport ships and helicopters for warfare missions,
The new vessel was decked in red, white and blue ribbons for the commissioning ceremony, which started with a moment of silence for those whose lives lost in the September 11th attacks. Hundreds of sailors stood at attention as the ship was introduced.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was the U.S. Senator from the state of New York during the September 11 attacks, said the vessel echoes the spirit of the state it is named after. "This ship carries with it the searing memories of September 11th. Lives cut short. Families ripped apart. A nation attacked. And in that steel, burned but unbroken, lives the spirit we saw on 9/11 and the days that followed," she said.
The USS New York was built in the southern U.S. State of Louisiana and the early phases of its construction were marked by another tragedy in U.S. history - 2005's Hurricane Katrina, which battered the Gulf Coast and left more than 1700 people dead.
Last month, the ship sailed out of its dock in New Orleans, heading for its namesake city and a week's worth of events honoring the new vessel.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg helped to set the first watch for the ship. The watch will remain without stopping for the entire life of the USS New York. "Our city has a deep and lasting connection to this ship. Not only does she carry steel from the World Trade Center in her bow, she symbolizes the courage and resilience of our people and she helps protect the freedoms that makes this the most diverse and tolerant city in the world," he said.
The USS New York will remain docked in the city into next week, before heading back to its base in Norfolk, Virginia, for a year of crew training and exercises.