As a matter of posting more content and connecting with the other stuff I do, I really oughta link over to the essays I publish on the Hidden City Daily. Is there a way to put an RSS feed for a specific author on a site like Hidden City? [Let me google that for you.] [Thinks out loud.]
After a week calling Philadelphia home, the USS Somerset will officially become the US Navy’s newest warship this morning at a commissioning ceremony. Docked at Penn’s Landing since arriving last week, the Somerset (LPD-25*) is a San Antonio class amphibious transport dock, named for the victims of United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Somerset County, Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001.
*The LPD series stands for Landing Platform Dock.
(Side note: my late grandfather DJ Maule is from the village of Bakersville in Somerset County, about 15 miles from Shanksville, and we went to family reunions at a picnic ground there when I was little. Additional side note: the Oakhurst Tea Room has called Somerset home for over 80 years, and to this day it is still the most incredible, gluttonous German smorgasbord I’ve ever seen. Highly, highly recommended for your next drive across the Pennsylvania Turnpike.)
USS Somerset was built at Avondale Shipyard on the Mississippi River near New Orleans in Louisiana, the last Naval ship to leave that facility whose fate is uncertain. The Somerset was the last Navy contract Avondale had, and a shipyard workforce that once totaled over 5,000 is now down to 700 with no major contracts secured. (New Orleans Times-Picayune.)
As a warship, the Somerset will transport Sailors, Marines, and supplies. Its flight deck is large enough for two V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft to land/depart simultaneously, a feat the Navy demonstrated with the landing of an Osprey and a SuperCobra attack helicopter during the media tour on Thursday.
A 9/11 theme pervades the deepest interiors of the ship, from the massive “Let’s Roll” facing the flight deck to Heroes Hall (the mess hall); from a quilt memorializing all the passengers of Flight 93 to items collected across Somerset County, including road signs, maps, and photos. It’s also got a commemorative bell emblazoned with “PEACE THROUGH POWER”.
Following today’s commissioning, the Somerset will set sail for the homeport of San Diego. For a full photo essay of the ship in its Delaware River surroundings, check it out on Hidden City HERE.