Monday, 2 November 2009

USS New York comes home

I spent a wonderful week in New York earlier this year and look forward to a return visit once I get myself back on my feet.  New York is a friendly and metropolitan city, quite a place to spend some time - the pace of life is exciting, the sights and sounds both familiar through popular culture yet not diminished in their ability to inspire awe when viewed for the first time.

On an appropriately damp and gray New York afternoon I took a walk through the financial district to the World Trade Tower ground zero, now a busy construction site - the size of which hits you right between the eyes and puts the scale of the disaster of the 11th September 2001 in perspective.  As I dodged the street vendors selling tasteless memorabilia I stopped for a moment to pay my respects, and was moved by the many impromptu, hand crafted and written heartfelt tributes left around the site and adjacent Fire House.  You can see some examples of these on the King Of New York Hacks blog here.

The USA for all its faults is a land of hope; the hopes and dreams of generations of displaced and ambitious émigrés embodied in its psyche, it is that which gives the USA its greatest strengths.

In a poignant maiden voyage the latest San Antonio-class amphibious dock vessel, capable of carrying 800 marines with helicopters, the USS New York sailed up the Hudson past the World Trade Centre site today. The ship will remain in the city until Veterans Day on November 11.

The 648ft USS New York LPD-21 contains 7.5 tonnes of recycled steel from the World Trade Towers, the Navy having decided to incorporate the recycled steel from the fallen twin towers and name the vessel after New York as a tribute to the victims.

Rescue workers and families of those killed in the attack gathered on both sides of the Hudson waterfront to watch the yet to be commissioned warship fire a 21 gun salute, halt opposite the former World Trade Center site and then head up the Hudson river to tie up at pier 88.  On Saturday she will be formally inducted into the United States Navy fleet. Around 13 percent of the crew of 361 sailors come from New York, a far higher percentage than would normally be assigned after the US Navy were inundated with requests to serve onboard.

Two other US Navy ships of the same class have also been named to commemorate the September 11 attacks: The USS Arlington named in honour of victims who died at the Pentagon and the USS Somerset commemorating the county in Pennsylvania where the hijacked United Airlines flight 93 crashed.

Having sailed beneath the Verrezano Narrows bridge in the early hours of the morning, listening to Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue; the unfolding dawn vista of Manhattan, Lady Liberty and New York seemed to me the very definition of optimism and proof of what we can achieve if we put aside our differences.  I just wonder if a warship is the best way to honour the victims of 9/11?

4 comments:

  1. Having a couple of hours to kill in Plymouth ( England ) I took a boat trip around the bay and passed several UK, USA and Allied submarines in dock. Next time I noticed those same boats ( correct word for subs I believe ) were in action in The Gulf as part of the reaction to 9/11.

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  2. The US is f*&%ed. I expect a depressed economy leading to social unrest culminating in martial law.

    Exciting - nicht wahr?

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  3. @banned - Why did the reaction to a Saudi plot result in the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, with no sanctions against Saudi Arabia? Oh yeah, I know....

    @scunnert - Interesting times indeed - the demise of the US, if that is what we see, may be a catalyst for real change throughout human society. Something we are well overdue I think; capitalism and democracy in their current forms will be shown in a new light - a very unflattering one.

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  4. Sadly I am not an International Diplomatist and must refer your question to a George Bush or Tony Blair.

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