The new USS Arlington (LPD 24) was commissioned in Norfolk on Saturday, before a crowd of more than 5,000 people.
The ship was named in honor of the 184 victims of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. Military brass and members of the ship’s crew were joined at the ceremony by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Rep. Jim Moran, state legislators, all five Arlington County Board members, Arlington law enforcement officers and firefighters who responded on 9/11, and family members of 9/11 victims.
Joyce Rumsfeld, the ship’s sponsor and the wife of the former defense secretary, gave the final word for the ship’s crew of sailors and Marines to board the Arlington.
“Man our ship, bring her to life,” Rumsfeld said as more than 100 men and women ran up the ship’s brow and manned the rails to render a salute.
The USS Arlington was built by Huntington-Ingalls Industries in Pascagoula, Miss. Her keel was laid on May 26, 2008 and she was delivered to the Navy on Dec. 7, 2012.
The Arlington is one of three 9/11 commemorative ships, including the USS New York and USS Somerset. The ships are San Antonio class amphibious dock ships, capable of transporting nearly 1,200 sailors and Marines, plus helicopters and landing craft, to hotspots around the world.
The ship’s expected service life is 40 years.
“LPD 24 bears a name of great significance to our Navy and Marine Corps team,” the ceremony’s keynote speaker, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James Amos, said in a statement. “LPD 24 will forever represent the courage, devotion and teamwork that characterized our military and first responders on that modern day of infamy.”
There were two ships named USS Arlington before LPD 24: a World War II-era cargo ship and a Vietnam War-era communications ship. A crew member from the Vietnam-era ship was on hand to help forge “a strong bond” between the crews of the current and the previous USS Arlington.
NBC 4 and the Sun Gazette have additional coverage of the commissioning. The USS Arlington Commissioning Committee is still trying to raise some $80,000 to pay for a 9/11 Tribute Room on the ship, NBC 4 reported.
Photos courtesy U.S. Navy