By Jonathan Tamari Philly.com
WASHINGTON – The USS Somerset, named to honor the passengers and crew of United Flight 93, will be commissioned in Philadelphia, Sens. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) and Bob Casey (D., Pa.) said today.
“Pennsylvanians will be privileged to have the ship begin her service to the country in the Port of Philadelphia,” Toomey said in a new release. He thanked Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus for the decision.
“Our Commonwealth was deeply and uniquely impacted by the tragic events of September 11th,” Casey said in a statement. Citing “the brave individuals” who struggled against hijackers on the flight, Casey added, “We have taken great pride in our role to ensure that this sacrifice is never forgotten.”
The ship will be commissioned in January, Toomey’s office said.
“Somerset is an important ship for the Navy and our nation and commissioning her in the Port of Philadelphia will make the event even more meaningful,” Mabus said in the release issued by Toomey’s office. “Once I learned it was possible to commission Somerset in Philadelphia it was the obvious choice for me to make.” (Commissioning the ship puts it into active service).
The ship is named for the Pennsylvania county where Flight 93 crashed on September 11, 2001, after passengers and crew struggled to take control from hijackers. The Somerset includes steel melted down from some of the digging equipment used at the crash site and, according to Toomey’s office, wood from sugar maple trees in the area was used in flooring. Toomey’s office helped secure the donated trees.
Both Pennsylvania senators had lobbied the Navy to commission the ship in Philadelphia.
The ship is the Navy’s ninth amphibious transport dock ship in the San Antonio class. It was christened in July in Louisiana.
The USS New York and USS Arlington are other ships also named in honor of those killed on 9/11.