USS Arlington joins fleet in memory of Pentagon

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 6, 2013 at 2:45 pm •  Published: April 6, 2013
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"Starting out, I never even know they were building this ship. I never knew I'd be a part of something like this. And being that I'm a part of this ship now, and that I'm a plank owner of this ship, means a great deal to myself and my family," said Florentino, who is from Lake Ariel, Pa.

The Arlington is now the Navy's 283rd warship. It is capable of carrying a landing force of up to 800 Marines, as well as amphibious assault vehicles and aircraft.

Two previous ships have had the name Arlington. The first was a cargo ship in World War II. The second USS Arlington was a Vietnam War-era communications relay ship, which the Navy says assisted with communications during a June 1969 conference between U.S. President Richard Nixon and Republic of Vietnam President Nguyen Van Thieu.

In honor of the northern Virginia community, two of the ship's main passageways are marked with road signs from major Arlington thoroughfares: Arlington Boulevard and Columbia Pike.

The other amphibious transport docks named after 9/11 attack sites are the USS New York and the USS Somerset. The USS New York was built with steel from the World Trade Center and recently completed its first deployment. The USS Somerset is named for the Pennsylvania county where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed.

Its bow stem — the first part of the ship to push through the water — was made from 7.5 tons of steel melted down from the bucket of a huge coal-mining crane that stood near the crash site. It was there that miners hung a large American flag to serve as a landmark and to honor the dead.

It was christened in July and will join the fleet in 2014.

"The USS Arlington, New York and Somerset serve as a reminder to us of all that we lost on 9/11. More importantly, they stand as a clear and distinguishable message to those who oppose democracy. This ship and those of her class represent America's resolve," Gen. James Amos, the Marine Corps commandant, said in his keynote address at the commissioning.

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Brock Vergakis can be reached at www.twitter.com/BrockVergakis