Secretary of the Navy Gordon England named the eighth and ninth ships of the San Antonio-class of Amphibious Transport Dock ships as Arlington and Somerset.
The future USS Arlington and USS Somerset will join USS New York as living tributes to those who suffered in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and to the nation.
Arlington was chosen to honor thecounty in northern Virginia, and especially, the 184 victims, aboard American Airlines Flight 77, and on the ground, who died during the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon.
Somerset honors the county in Pennsylvania where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed after courageous passengers stormed the cockpit in an attempt to regain control from the terrorists onboard. Their actions prevented the airplane from reaching its destination and inflicting further casualties and damage, and the heroic sacrifice of these 40 passengers and crew rallied and inspired the nation.
In naming these ships, England noted the impact these vessels will have on the terrorist infrastructure that led to their naming. "USS Arlington and USS Somerset will help America project power to the far reaches of the earth and will support the cause of freedom as we engage in the current war on terrorism," England said. "The courage and heroism of the people aboard those flights, and in the Pentagon, will never be forgotten by the American people, and as these ships engage in combating terrorism, they will leave a legacy that will never be forgotten by those wishing to do harm to this country.
Two previous vessels have been named Arlington. The first was a steel-hulled C1B type cargo ship operating during World War II. The second USS Arlington was a 14,500-ton major communications relay ship, originally commissioned in July 1946, which saw heavy use during the Vietnam War, including helping with communications during a June 1969 conference between U.S. President Nixon and Republic of Vietnam President Thieu.
Two previous Navy ships have carried the Somerset name as well. The first Somerset, a wooden-hulled, side-wheel ferryboat, performed blockade duty and made reconnaissance expeditions for the Union, until she was sold at public auction on July 12, 1865.
The Navy acquired the second Somerset, a wooden motorboat built in 1917, on April 10, 1918, under free lease from the Conservation Commission of Maryland. Designated Id. No. 2162, Somerset served on section patrol duty in the Chesapeake Bay area during World War I. After the armistice was signed, she was returned to her owner on Nov. 26, 1918.
The 684-foot-long amphibious transport dock ships will be built by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in New Orleans and will each carry a Navy crew of 363 and 699 Marines. The ships will be used to transport and land Marines, their equipment and supplies by embarked air cushions or conventional landing craft or amphibious vehicles, augmented by helicopters or vertical take off and landing aircraft in amphibious assault, special operations, or expeditionary warfare missions.
The ships will also incorporate the latest quality of life standards for the embarked sailors and Marines, including the sit-up berth, ship services mall, a fitness center and learning resource center and electronic classroom with the flexibility to accommodate mixed gender sailors and Marines as part of the crew and embarked troops. The design team also incorporated hundreds of suggestions and recommendations from more than 1,000 sailors and Marines in the design for ownership process to ensure that these ships will meet their needs throughout the first half of the 21st century.
For more information on San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ships, visit