Naval Gazing

NY Post - November 05, 2009


New York, meet New York.

The city's namesake naval warship, USS New York, opened its doors to the public yesterday and hundreds jumped at the chance to see the ship forged in part out of 7.5 tons of steel salvaged from the wreckage of the Twin Towers.

Private tours were held Tuesday for the families of victims of the terrorist attack, and several 9/11 survivors were among those posing for pictures on the flight and well decks yesterday.

Lou Sofo, 66, of Long Island, can never forget seeing the second plane hit from his office in the World Trade Center.

"I think about it every day. We were so close that we could feel the heat from the flames," he said as he toured the warship.

"This is magnificent," he said. "It's an honor to be here."

Wen Chang, 50, of Piscataway, who was working on the 72nd floor of the North Tower on 9/11, brought his family to see the ship.

"It's quite moving to see the steel transformed to protect the country," Chang said. "It's a spirit of transformation, a spirit over terrorism."

USS New York is an amphibious landing dock platform, designed to move entire Marine battalions.

There are signs of the city throughout the ship, including a New York diner-themed galley called the Skyline Cafe'.

Visitors yesterday were most interested in standing on what had once been part of the Twin Towers.

One city firefighter stared at the bow of the ship, which contains the Twin Towers steel, and said he was awestruck.

"It's great to be here," he said. "It's kind of like an honor to stand on the deck."

Another member of the FDNY added, "It gives you the chills -- it's a good feeling."

Tourists said they changed their original sightseeing plans when they heard there was a chance to board USS New York.

"It's just incredible to see something of that magnitude. It's the most magnificent tribute for Sept. 11," said Celia Coughlan, 73, of Connecticut. "I could have stayed seven hours. The sailors are hunks."

USS New York will be officially commissioned at a ceremony on Saturday, but the ship will remain docked next to the Intrepid through next Wednesday, Veterans Day.