USS New York (LPD 21) gets underway for the last time from its birthplace at the Northrop Grumman shipyard in Avondale, Louisiana today. It is leaving for its new home port in Norfolk, Virginia, and the people of Avondale and the greater New Orleans area are giving the ship a proper, if sentimental, send-off. For them, USS New York has special meaning beyond the 7.5 tons of steel recovered from the World Trade Center that is now molded into the bow stem of the ship. For it was after the wreckage of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent, inevitable delay to the ship building schedule when the shipyard workers who began work on LPD 21 vowed to return to the post-Katrina greater New Orleans area and finish what they had started. It took them five years in total to complete the construction, and finish it they did -- as war ships go, this one looks nothing short of spectacularly stealthy. A modern marvel. Just plain awe-inspiring.
Today the residents of Avondale and the greater New Orleans area are lining the levees as a salute to see their ship off. I think it both fitting and right that they honor the ship in this way. Through USS New York the people of New Orleans will forever be connected, at first through tragedy and later through triumph, with New Yorkers. And on November 2nd, the day USS New York will sail up New York Harbor for the very first time, New Yorkers will give its ship and the Louisianans who made her a reciprocating return salute, welcoming a 7.5 ton piece of the World Trade Center home.
Fair winds and following seas, Louisiana! USS New York is heading home.