By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Patrick Gordon, Defense Media Activity – Navy
The Navy christened its newest amphibious transport dock ship, USS Arlington (LPD 24), during a ceremony at Northrop Grumman shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., March 26.
The ship is named for the city of Arlington, Va., honoring the 184 victims in the air and on the ground, who lost their lives when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon Sept. 11, 2001.
“Sailors of the Arlington, you are the spirit that will carry this ship forward,” said Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert. “This is the ship we’ll need for the future. She’s exactly what we called for when we looked out on our cooperative strategy for the 21st century.”
Joyce Rumsfeld, wife of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, sponsored the ship and brought it to active service by breaking a bottle of champagne across the bow of the ship.
“To those of you responsible for building this ship, you have done something quite remarkable,” said Rumsfeld. “It represents the remembrance of those lost in the Pentagon attack, it represents the clarity of purpose that the attack initiated and it represents so well what we as a nation are able to accomplish if we do work together.”
By its namesake, the ship also honors the military and civilian employees, and the emergency, fire and rescue personnel of Arlington and surrounding communities who provided critical assistance after the attack.
Arlington County Fire Chief James Schwartz, the incident commander who coordinated the rescue response efforts at the Pentagon during the Sept. 11 attack, praised the heroism and dedication that USS Arlington represents.
“Sept. 11 taught us that life is precious,” said Schwartz. “So, too, is the American way of life. Today we christen a Navy vessel whose chief responsibility is to preserve that way of life and to enable us as Americans to pursue our hopes and dreams in freedom. This way of life is only possible because of the sacrifice of men and women in uniform who defend and protect our nation, both here and around the world.”
Arlington was designed with force protection in mind, and serves as a sea-based platform for U.S Marine Corps personnel.
“The expeditionary force in readiness is the vanguard of our nation’s security,” said Maj. Gen. James Kessler, Marine Corps Logistics Command commanding general. “The Navy-Marine Corps team is uniquely suited to these conditions, and this ship is uniquely suited to these missions.”
The Arlington is the U.S Navy’s eighth and latest San Antonio class amphibious transport ship, and the third to bear the name. The ship’s overall length is 684 feet and can reach speeds in excess of 22 knots. Arlington’s armament includes two Bushmaster II 30 mm close in guns; two rolling airframe missile launchers and 10 .50-caliber machine guns.
Arlington has the capability to embark, transport and land amphibious forces through a variety of methods and vehicles including Landing Craft Air Cushion craft and Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles. Arlington will also operate with aircraft such as the tilt-rotor MV-22 Ospreys and CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters.