Heart of Steel

NY Post - November 06, 2009


USS New York joins the fleet tomor row -- the seventh warship of the US Navy to bear the name, and among the first purpose-built to fight the nation's 21st-century wars. We wish her fair winds and following seas as she begins what should be decades of exemplary service to America.

By now, New York's story is well-known: Dedicated to the heroes of 9/11, the vessel is intended as a symbol of defiance to the perpetrators of the attack and the nihilist philosophies that animated them. In that spirit, she carries 7.5 tons of steel salvaged from the World Trade Center in her bow.

How appropriate, then, that 9/11 responders from the FDNY, the NYPD and the Port Authority police will actively join New York's crew during tomorrow's commissioning ceremonies.

This is no small honor -- and it is eminently well-deserved.

But once the vessel's commissioning pennant is raised -- as it will be shortly before noon tomorrow -- symbolism becomes subordinate to mission: New York will begin training in earnest to deliver deadly force to America's enemies.

USS New York has a very specific purpose: A San Antonio-class amphibious assault ship, she can carry up to 800 Marines to the ends of the earth and deposit them directly at the scene of conflict.

Those capabilities stand to make New York a real asset in the War on Terror -- and greatly increase the chances that her crew will see combat.

In that respect, the vessel is hardly unique. Warships, after all, are meant to go to war.

But it remains that New York is special. There's the steel in her bow, and the defiant spirit it represents, which make New York an especially tempting target for those looking to kill Americans, and to diminish American resolve.

Her crew is fully aware of this -- and accepts the enhanced danger. Indeed, many from New York -- city and state -- specificallyvolunteered for duty aboard the vessel.

America needs to be equally clear-eyed about New York, her mission and the special risks that attend service aboard her.

For certain, New York's crew won't flinch.

Neither can the nation.

USS New York remains at Pier 88 on Manhattan's West Side until Nov. 12.

The ship honors its namesake state.

New Yorkers of good will should stop by and pay their respects.