The billion-dollar, 25,000-ton vessel is 684 feet long, 105 feet wide. It is the fifth in a new class of warship, designed for missions that include special operations against terrorists. It can carry a crew of about 360 sailors and 700 combat-ready Marines to be delivered ashore by helicopters and assault craft.
's prospective commanding officer is Cmdr. F. Curtis Jones, a native New Yorker. It is to be commissioned, essentially added to the fleet, next year. It could be used as part of peaceful missions or as part of war, said Adm. Gary Roughead, the Navy's chief of operations.
That it could be used in war did not bother Lee Ielpi, president of the September 11th Families' Association, whose son, Jonathan, a firefighter, died in the attacks. The ship won't be used for war "unless you bother us," he said in an interview.
"We're sending a message that we're standing strong," he said, adding: "This ship, as it cuts through the water, is going to send a ripple. That ripple will say, 'We cherish our freedom.'"
Also from the twisted steel of the World Trade Center are steel beams that are the foundation of the Freedom Towers that's begun to rise in the spot the WTC once stood. The use of the steel seems settling in many ways. It shows us that we will not soon forget the victims and heroes of that day.