Navy ships share Sept. 11 connection

USS Carl Vinson, New York linked in War on Terror

Published On: Aug 05 2011 02:30:32 AM CDT   Updated On: Aug 11 2011 02:07:32 AM CDT

This is a story of two U.S. Navy ships linked by their shared connection to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Both the USS Carl Vinson, a Nimitz class supercarrier launched in 1980, and the USS New York, a battleship christened in 2008, have served in the war on terror, but the former also carried 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden to his burial at sea while the latter was partially forged from steel salvaged from the World Trade Center.

USS Carl Vinson

The Carl Vinson, named after Georgia congressman, set sail from Bremerton, Wash., bound for the Persian Gulf, on July 23, 2001. The carrier was rounding the tip of India on Sept. 11, 2001, and immediately changed course toward the North Arabian Sea.

Thus, the ship launched the first airstrikes on in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the official name for the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan. The Carl Vinson remained in the area for 72 days, taking part in an effort that launched more than 4,000 combat sorties and earning the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal in the process.

The carrier was also deployed for several months in 2005 in the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and was part of relief efforts following the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

However, it was what happened on its decks on May 2, 2011, that the Carl Vinson is most remembered for. Following his death in a daring raid by U.S. Navy Seals, bin Laden's body was brought aboard the carrier, which was operating in the North Arabian Sea, and was buried at sea following religious rites.

Perhaps the only thing more fitting would have been if the burial had taken place aboard the USS New York.

USS New York

USS New York on way to commissioning
The New York, which was built in New Orleans and was under construction when Hurricane Katrina hit the city in 2005, includes 7.5 tons of steel recovered from the rubble of the World Trade Center in its bow.

The steel was melted down to cast the ship's "stem bar," part of its bow, and represents a small fraction of its total weight.

The ship set sail for the first time from New Orleans on Oct. 13, 2009, and passed the World Trade Center site on Nov. 2, 2009, on its way to its commissioning ceremonies in New York City, pausing to give Ground Zero a 21-gun salute.

The New York's motto, "Strength Forged Through Sacrifice - Never Forget," pays homage to the victims and first responders of the attacks.

The ship isn't the only way the Navy is memorializing the sites attacked on Sept. 11. The USS New York's two sister ships will be named the USS Arlington and the USS Somerset in honor of the places two of the other planes used in the attacks came down: the Pentagon in Arlington County, Va., and a field in Somerset County, Pa.

The Arlington and the Somerset will also go to sea with steel in their bows salvaged and reformed from the sites they are named after: Arlington's from the Pentagon building's structural girders and Somerset's from the meltdown of a crane used to excavate the airliner wreckage.