Earlier this week, Untapped Cities had the honor of embarking on the USS New York, the lead ship for the Parade of Ships during Fleet Week 2019, for an overnight stay. We flew in an Osprey helicopter from Manhattan and boarded somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean off the New Jersey coast. We were given a tour of the ship, bunked in an officer’s stateroom, shared meals with the captain and other officers, and witnessed many moving and inspirational events on this ship, which is dedicated to the victims of 9/11. This ship is the living representation of those people [who lost their lives on 9/11],” Command Master Chief, Ben Hodges of the USS New York told us on a tour of the ship, “It’s great to have the opportunity to bring the ship back to New York City.” True to its name, the USS New York is full of New York City references, which you will discover in this article.

Yesterday morning, the USS New York pulled into Pier 88, next to the Intrepid Air & Space Museum on the Hudson River yesterday morning, following an 11-canon salute from Fort Hamilton in honor of 9/11. You can take a ship tour of the USS New York for Fleet Week, and in anticipation, here are ten of the most fun facts we learned on our stay on the ship!

1. There are 7.5 Metric Tons of Steel from the World Trade Center in the USS New York

The USS New York (LPD 21), commissioned in 2009, is one of three ships dedicated to the victims of 9/11, along with the Arlington and the Somerset. She joins a long line of ships with the same name, dating back to the American Revolution. In a fitting tribute, the bow stem of the USS New York is made of 7 1/2 metric tons of steel recovered from from the World Trade Center. CMDMC Ben Hodges tells us that the Navy has refused to retouch or add new steel to the bow stem. If you look closely on a visit, you will see the rough edge on the stern. “It’s tower steel,” CMDMC Hodges says, and because it is situated at the “very leading edge of the ship, it literally parts the waters wherever we go.”

The ship’s sponsor, Mrs. Dotty England, whose husband Gordon England is the former 72nd and 73rd Secretary of the Navy and current Deputy Secretary of Defense, was part of the ceremonial pouring of the salvaged steel from the World Trade Center. She stated, “It is a humbling and profound honor to represent the victims, families and the heroes of 9-11, the people of New York and all Americans. This nation will never forget what happened that day… and will forever cherish the sacrifices of all those preserve our freedoms and liberties.”

2. Another 9/11 Artifact is On the USS New York

An additional 1,000 pound piece of plate steel from the World Trade Center is located above the ramp on the way to the well deck. This piece of steel is carved with the number of officers killed in action from the NYPD, FDNY and the Port Authority Police. It also has the tagline of the ship, “Strength Forged Through Sacrifice. Never Forget.”

Below this piece of World Trade Center steel is the original NEW YORK sign of the ship, which was made twice the size of the Navy standard. It was allowed to stay on the stern for many years until the ship was forced to follow protocol, at which point the crew cut the entire piece of steel from the back of the ship and placed it here.

3. There’s a Broadway on the USS New York

Photo by Erica Price

The longest and widest pathway on the ship has been dubbed Broadway, replete with a wall of Broadway show posters and an official DOT sign that says Broadway, gifted by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg after a visit to the USS New York on the ship’s first visit for Fleet Week in 2009. (On this inaugural visit, the NYPD accompanied the USS New York with a bevy of air and sea vehicles).

Photo by Erica Price

“Broadway” is wide enough for forklifts to run along it going out to the flight deck, and can accommodate combat Marines who can be 2 to 3 feet thick front to back with all their gear. On the USS New York’s sister ships, this walkway has a different nickname. It’s called I-95 on the Arlington, for example!

4. There is a Daily Prayer to a Victim of 9/11

Photo by Erica Price

Every day at 8:15 PM, the ship’s chaplain leads a daily prayer broadcast throughout the ship for one victim of 9/11. He reads a few tidbits about the person’s life, personal tidbits versus formal biographical information, so the crew can learn about the personality of a victim from 9/11. The whole ship observes a moment of silence during this time. 

5. NYC Memorabilia Exists All Over the USS New York

Photo by Erica Price

We already mentioned the Broadway street sign, but you will find memorabilia from New York City all over the ship. There are Port Authority police badges, collections of FDNY badges and flags, a New York City subway map and posters from MTA Arts & Design, subway signs, and more.

Photo by Erica Price

In addition to the two main 9/11 artifacts, there are also three uniforms worn by members of the FDNY, NYPD and Port Authority framed in glass – two show the impact of debris sustained during 9/11.

6. All the Murals on the Ship Were Painted by USS New York Sailors

Photo by Erica Price

The USS New York is full of art. A lot of is dedicated to 9/11, but also to New York City in general. The Command Control Center has a figure of Batman looming above the Twin Towers. The ramp to the well deck, where the 9/11 plated steel is located, has a Bansky-esque stencil outline of the New York City skyline, Twin Towers included, and the Statue of Liberty, along with the faces of former U.S. Presidents Barack Obama, and George H.W. Bush, with quotes about service and freedom. The “beach” of the well deck was getting the NY Giants logo painted as we walked through.

The large mural above, located on the door of the Flight Deck hangar, was painted recently and shows part of the crest of the USS New York with the words “Never Forget” which includes the Twin Towers, the phoenix rising, a shield that honors the FDNY, NYPD and Port Authority.

7. There’s a Floodable Level on the USS New York

Photo by Erica Price

The USS New York has an enormous well deck, a floodable level for amphibious vehicles to be launched or to dock. On our visit, there was a rapid ship to shore mover (think, massive hovercraft) inside the well deck, which can move at 35 knots.

The well deck is just one of the many levels that store the millions of pounds of equipment that are on the USS New York. There are three levels for vehicles and when the USS New York is deployed, these levels are packed. When all these decks are combined, CMDCM Hodges tells us, it adds up to a football field and a half in length. The USS New York, he says, “is a completely self-sufficient, floating city” with power, water, fire stations, restaurants, stores, and more.

8. A 9/11 Artifact is Returning Home This Year

The original Art Aid banner was the first personalized tribute to the victims of 9/11, located on the fence of Ground Zero. It was given to the USS New York and has now traveled around the world three or four times. The USS New York will be giving back the original banner to Art Aid, which is become a little worn for wear, and the organization has already made a recreation banner for the ship.

9. Fun Uses of the Flight Deck

Photo by Erica Price

The flight deck of the USS New York can hold four Hueys or Cobra helicopters at a time, along with more inside the hangar. They are usually between 5 and 8 smaller helicopters aboard at at time during deployment. On our visit, the Osprey helicopter was transporting press and others back and forth. The flight deck is large enough to land a Marine jump jet in an emergency, but not long enough for it to take off. During calm times, the flight deck has been used for picnics, and the crew has been known to play golf off the ship.

10. Largest Pilot House in the Navy

Photo by Erica Price

The USS New York has the largest pilot house of the Navy, running the width of the ship at 105 feet. Up on the bridge, a cigar social takes place about once every two weeks. And one of the most fun finds on the ship are the two exercise bikes on the ship – probably the best cycling view in the world. CMDCM Hodges says they sometimes come up here at 5 AM. He muses, “To ride a bike in the sunrise is an all right way to live.”

Photo by Erica Price

See more behind-the-scenes photos from our trip to the USS New York here, by Erica Price:

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Check out the USS New York for Fleet Week and discover 11 Off-the-Beaten Path Ways to Celebrate Memorial Day Weekend this year.