When the Navy's newest ship, the USS New York, is christened this weekend, it will serve as a memorial of Sept. 11, 2001 in more then just name. The leading edge of its bow is made from steel girders salvaged from the ruins of the World Trade Center.
In 2002, the Navy decided to honor New York state, New York City and the victims of 9/11 by naming a soon-to-be-built amphibious vessel the USS New York.
In a further act of symbolism, 7.5 tons of steel I-beams salvaged from the World Trade Center wreckage were melted and formed to make the ship's "bow stem," the leading edge of the ship that connects the bow to the hull.
The USS New York is the fifth ship of the Navy's new San Antonio class of amphibious ships that will be able to carry a landing force of 800 marines, aircraft and landing equipment. The ship will carry a crew of 360 sailors.
USS New York is the first of three Navy ships marking 9/11. Two future amphibious ships of the same San Antonio class will be named the USS Somerset and the USS Arlington.
The Somerset will be named for the county in Pennsylvania where Flight 93 crashed as passengers fought with hijackers, and the USS Arlington will honor the county that is home to the Pentagon, also attacked on 9/11.
The ship also has links to another major event, Hurricane Katrina, which caused $20 million in damage to the Avondale Shipyard in New Orleans where it was built, though the ship itself did not suffer significant damage.
This Saturday, Dotty England, the wife of Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, will break a bottle of champagne across the ship's bow with the words, "I christen thee, USS New York."
England was also on hand in 2003 for the laying of the keel ceremony, when molten steel from the World Trade Center was cast for the bow-stem for the new ship.
Work will continue throughout 2008 to outfit the ship's engines and combat systems. The ship will enter the fleet in 2009.