Ships Named in Honor of Sept. 11 Heroes, Victims
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 10, 2004 Out of a tragedy comes remembrance in the form of new military might.
Nearly three years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, two Navy warships were named in a Sept. 9 ceremony at the Pentagon. The USS Arlington and the USS Somerset honor the heroes and victims of the Pentagon attack and the flight downed in Pennsylvania.
"The naming of the USS Arlington also honors the sacrifice of those who provided the critical assistance both during and after the attack of 9/11," said Virginia Rep. James P. Moran Jr. "The strength demonstrated by the military and civilian employees of the Department of Defense, the emergency, fire and rescue personnel of Arlington County, and all the surrounding jurisdictions throughout Northern Virginia and the Washington community and, of course, the spirit of the people of Arlington will now forever be remembered in a very appropriate way."
The Arlington and Somerset are the latest additions to the San Antonio Class of amphibious transport dock ships, the first to be designed from the keel up. This class is set to replace 27 amphibious ships from the three classes of amphibious ships now in service. An earlier ship of the same class was named for the World Trade Center victims in New York.
With an overall length of 684 feet, the San Antonio Class ships are designed to accommodate 1,200 sailors and Marines and their equipment. They also employ some of the latest technology by way of the Advanced Enclosed Mast/Sensor System. The AEM/S structure is detachable to allow for upgrades of combat sensors and command, control and communications systems, according to the Navy's San Antonio Class Web site.
Unlike traditional masts, this new system supports and protects radar and communication equipment from the elements, according to the Navy's Web site. A special coating on the mast, called a "composite hybrid frequency selective surface," blocks electronic noise and allows a ship's radar and communication signals to pass through the protective outer structure while filtering other noise. The new design has dramatically changed the ship's topside appearance, according to the Web site.
Quality-of-life issues also have been addressed with this new class of amphibious ship. Crew berthing will be roomier and include more storage space, officials said.
Also, the ships will be outfitted with a "Shipboard Wide Area Network." Among other, more practical uses, the network will provide extensive access to e-mail and the Internet throughout the ship, according to the Web site.
The USS New York, the USS Arlington and USS Somerset will serve as shining reminders of America's resilience after the attacks of Sept. 11, Moran said.
Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England recognized the victims' families and the first responders in the audience, acknowledging the sacrifices made. He also echoed Moran's sentiment.
"USS Arlington and USS Somerset will join USS New York as living tributes to every hero who died here in the Pentagon and on American Airlines Flight 77, and the brave and heroic passengers and crew of United Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania," England said.
With the naming of the USS Arlington and USS Somerset, the Navy continues its proud tradition of naming ships after great national or military leaders, heroes who sacrificed in the defense of freedom or battles fought to secure our liberties, England said.
"Ships' names are very important," England said. "They are a legacy for the sailors and the Marines who sail in them. It's a source of strength and of inspiration."
England recalled President Bush's remarks after the 2001 attacks: "We will not waver; we will not tire; we will not falter; and we will not fail."
"USS New York, USS Arlington and USS Somerset and the sailors and Marines who serve America in them will never forget and will never fail," England said.
The ceremony concluded with Mary Jo Myers, wife of Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, and victims' family members unveiling a model of a San Antonio Class ship.