The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

August 6, 2008

9/11 steel poured for USS Somerset

SOMERSET — The old draglines that towered above the reclaimed strip mine where Flight 93 crashed near Shanks-ville almost seven years ago are gone.

But their symbolic significance to the day average Americans fought back against terror will not be lost.

Twenty-two tons of steel from one of the large cranes was melted and poured Wednesday for the stemhold of the USS Somerset, a Navy

vessel being constructed in honor of Flight 93’s passengers and crew.

“We’re going to be cutting the water for that ship around the world,” Somerset County Commissioner John Vatavuk said after the smelting at the Northrup Grumman plant in Newport News, Va.

Vatavuk and his wife, Janet, represented the county at the ceremony.

“This was a bigger deal than what I ever expected,” Vatavuk said. “We got the red-carpet treatment.”

The stemhold – the leading edge of the ship – will be sent to Mississippi, where the amphibious landing vessel will be built.

The USS Somerset, USS Arlington and USS New York are among three ships that will honor the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001. Twenty-one tons of steel from the former World Trade Center were used in the construction of the USS New York.

Vatavuk said he and his wife were the first to sign a banner for the USS Somerset. The banner will be sent to Mississippi during construction of the vessel and probably will head to Somerset County upon its completion, he said.

Officials have said the USS Somerset is expected to be completed by 2012.

In a nutshell

What: San Antonio-class

amphibious transport dock.

Size: the 684-foot-long craft

can carry 699 people; 66 officers and 633 enlisted.

Armament: Two 30 mm

Bushmaster II cannons for

surface threat defense and two Rolling Airframe Missile launchers for air defense.

Aircraft carried: Four CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters or two MV-22 tilt rotor aircraft may be launched or recovered simultaneously.

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