Friday, May 5, 2017

Touring the U.S. Navy's USS New York

Security wouldn't have allowed my Royal Enfield this close.
I was lucky enough to register for a tour of a U.S. Navy ship Wednesday during Fleet Week in my hometown, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

It was especially lucky that I asked to tour a particular ship that did show up for the event.

Two cruisers and a destroyer scheduled to appear couldn't make it. There must have been somewhere more important for them to go. All three can launch missiles — it makes you wonder.

Anxious tour group follows Marine guide aboard the USS New York.
I got to tour the USS New York, a nearly new "amphibious transport dock." That sounds mundane, but the New York's job is to launch 700 Marines onto foreign shores using landing craft and helicopters. She's big, purposeful and sleek (to shrug off enemy radar).

Aboard ship, the young Marines showing off their vehicles were proud and confident — although they admitted that some of their vehicles have seen more than their share of deployments.

Explore this cutaway of the New York at this link.
I asked one Marine if his mine-resistant armored truck has air conditioning. It'd be more comfortable if it did, I thought.

"We're always uncomfortable," he smiled, and everyone in our tour group laughed. Of course — clearing mines — air conditioning might not be your first wish.

The New York is named for the state of New York, but the name makes a special nod to the City of New York as well. The stem of the ship incorporates steel salvaged from the twin towers of the World Trade Center, destroyed by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001.

Shadows of the twin towers loom on the flight deck's hangar doors.
The very name New York is a departure. Traditionally the names of states were reserved for the biggest guns of the fleet — battleships, at one time, and now nuclear armed submarines.

This ship and two sister ships are named for the three sites of the 9/11 attacks. The shadow of the disaster at the twin towers looms throughout the ship. The motto "Never Forget" even appears on every table cloth on the mess deck (cafeteria).

Imagine this space filled with landing craft and armed Marines.
The seriousness of that left us with a sense of the seriousness of purpose of this vessel.

This USS New York isn't the first naval ship to bear the name. The others had interesting histories.

Two were lost against the British in two different wars. One was lost to the Confederates while still on the stocks. One never left port. Another fought in the Spanish-American War in 1898 and was scuttled in 1941 to keep it out of the hands of the Japanese.

The most recent previous New York fought in both World Wars, then survived an atomic bomb test and finally was sunk as a target ship.

Best view of the USS New York was from the parking garage!

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