Yesterday USS New York (LPD 21) left its homeport of Norfolk, Virginia for New York City, and it is the last time the ship will set sail as a pre-commissioned unit (PCU). Prior to a ship's commissioning, it is classified as a PCU; so what will change on November 7, when she will be officially commissioned a U.S. Navy warship? Nothing but the title, because it is the ship's crew and the ship builders who built her that make-up the heart and soul of what truly has become a living, breathing military asset.
Often times we don't think of our Naval forces in that way. When we hear in the media about ships fighting off pirates near the Horn of Africa or providing humanitarian assistance for tsunami and hurricane relief, we conjure up images of large deck platforms of grey steel in our minds. But like any military unit that is tasked to carry out the orders of the President of the United States, it's the sons and daughters of the American people who ultimately make that call to action, whether serving boots on the ground, flying through air and space, or sailing on the deck plates. In fact, Sailors in the U.S. Navy serve in all of those capacities -- that's why I think serving in the Navy is the coolest job around.
Only three more days until our newest Navy ship carrying Sailors and Marines on board pulls into the City. I'm looking forward to the crew members sharing some of their heart and soul with New Yorkers -- always makes for a festive occasion in a place where people know first-hand about duty and sacrifice.