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L-1814 helps build USS New York

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The Navy and Northrop Grumman take the LPD 21 New York out for sea trials Sept. 8. Among those checking out the ship’s systems are members of Local 1814. Courtesy of Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding

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Workers lift the ship’s forepeak into position above the bow stem the vertical, wedge-shaped piece at bottom of photo. The bow stem is made from salvaged World Trade Center steel. Courtesy of Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding

$1 billion warship bears World Trade Center steel in bow

A VERY SPECIAL ship left the Avondale shipyard Oct. 13, bound for New York harbor and commissioning in the U.S Navy. Delivered by Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding (NGSB) and built by Avondale’s shipbuilders, many of whom are members of Local 1814 (Bridge City, La.) along with other unions of the New Orleans Metal Trades, the LPD 21 (New York) is one of the most advanced ships of its kind.

LPD stands for landing platform dock. San Antonio Class LPDs can transport up to 800 Marines. They can launch and retrieve landing craft such as the air-cushioned LCAC and the expeditionary fighting vehicle or EFV. They can also launch and retrieve helicopters and tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey aircraft. These capabilities make the San Antonio Class LPDs invaluable during military conflicts as well as in times of humanitarian crisis.

But it is not so much the New York’s stealthy design, potent armament, and amazing versatility that captures the imagination and emotions as it is the ship’s bow stem — the vertical section of the bow that cuts the water. The New York’s bow stem is made of seven and a half tons of steel salvaged from the World Trade Center. A total of 24 tons of WTC steel was shipped to an Amite, La., foundry in 2003, where it was melted and recast.

In naval parlance, the LPD 21 (New York) is a tribute ship. She is named to honor the state and city where nearly 2,800 people lost their lives in the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the Twin Towers. The ship carries the motto “Strength forged through sacrifice. Never forget.” She is the fifth San Antonio Class LPD to be constructed. Two other vessels in the class will also be tribute ships. The LPD 24 (Arlington) — named for the location of the Pentagon in Virginia — is being built at NGSB’s Pascagoula, Miss., shipyard by Local 693. The LPD 25 (Somerset) — named for the Pennsylvania county where Flight 93 crashed after being hijacked by terrorists — is being built in Avondale.

Also under construction are LPD 22 (San Diego), at Pascagoula, and LPD 23 (Anchorage), at Avondale.

Workers, families tour ship

TEN DAYS BEFORE the New York was to make her maiden voyage to the Big Apple, NGSB held a family ship tour to allow employees, families, and guests to board the ship and see the finished product up close. Out of the approximately 5,100 Avondale shipbuilders, as many as 3,000 union members from the New Orleans Metal Trades had worked on the 684-ft. warship during her five-year construction cycle. The work was delayed for months after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in August 2005, displacing shipyard employees, interrupting utility services, and damaging shipyard facilities.

“Before Katrina, our lodge had about 900 members at the shipyard,” said L-1814 Pres. Christopher Burnett. “After Katrina, we had about half that number.”

For many Local 1814 employees, the family tour day was their first opportunity to view the ship in its finished state, following the successful completion of sea trials in August. Boilermaker welders and ship fitters typically work on modules that are later assembled into large sections and lifted into place with massive cranes, so seeing the final product can be a satisfying experience.

This was especially true for a ship that carries with it such deep emotional connections — not only for victims of 9/11 for whom the New York is named, but for the shipbuilders in New Orleans who persevered following their own catastrophe, Hurricane Katrina, and brought the LPD 21 to life.

Commissioned into the Navy’s fleet Nov. 7, and formally named the USS New York, LPD 21 is now homeported in Norfolk, Va.

USS New York (LPD 21) highlights

Length:

684 feet

Beam:

105 feet

Displacement:

24,900 tons

Speed:

Over 22 knots (24.2 mph)

Crew:

360 sailors and 3 Marines

Troop capacity:

Up to 800

Air lift:

4 CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters or two MV-22 tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft

Landing craft:

Two LCACs (air cushion) or 14 EFVs (expeditionary fighting vehicles)

Keel laid:

September 10, 2004

Christening:

March 1, 2008

Commissioning:

November 7, 2009

Tags  Headline News
Locals  L-1814
Published on the Web: November 23, 2009

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