By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9
NEW ORLEANS -- It was a busy day at the Northrup Grumman shipyard in New Orleans as builders neared completion -- their hands, having lain the nearly 25,000 tons that make up the ship.
And although the men and women have done it all before, day after day, and year after year, they said working on the USS New York is different.
"You put more into it," ship builder Rachelle Gaines said. "You don't want anything to go wrong; you want everything to be right."
The bow stem is the foremost section of the ship's hull -- the hardest, most steadfast piece, and it's been made from melted down steel, steel from the World Trade Center.
The USS New York serves as a tribute to lives lost on Sept.11, and the courage and strength New Yorkers showed in response to terror. Seven and a half tons of it will forever be in the bow that now sits calmly on the Mississippi River.
Soon it will slice through the water, forging an even stronger national defense.
Commander Curt Jones will lead USS New York operations. He believes the steel in the bow sends a message.
"You can come attack up, but we're not going to stay down; we're going to rise again," Jones said. "We will do what we need to do. Whatever that is, wherever that is, that's what the world can expect from us."
Navy crew members numbering 360 will be aboard the USS New York on its mission, including one young man from Moore, Okla.
"I'm going to be one of the gunners mates assigned to the ship," Eric White said.
Gunners mate White will work with firearms on the ship. His job is to protect the vessel and the crew while they transport Marines on special operations and warfare missions.
"What happened in New York kind of hits a nerve, I guess, with what happened in 1995 with the Oklahoma City Bombing, I can kind of relate to it," White said.
The USS New York is 684 feet long, 105 feet across. It's the newest addition to the Navy's 21st Century Amphibious Assault class.
And not only is it built with remnants from the twin towers; it has already endured another American tragedy, Hurricane Katrina.
"I had like eight and a half feet of water in my house, and stayed away for three and a half weeks and it was just a major let down," ship builder Butler Williams Jr. said.
For hundreds of builders, the USS New York was the safest place to be after the storm. The ship handled the devastating wind and water with might.
"To see it go, it's going to be sad," Gaines said. "It's going to be sad to see it go."
Several more busy days at the shipyard, and soon the USS New York will sail. Honoring our heroes and believing in a brighter future.
The USS New York is set to be commissioned in New York Harbor -- fall, 2009.