The third of the so-called “9/11” ships, the Pre-commissioning Unit Somerset (LPD 25), has set sail from the Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) shipbuilding site in Avondale, La. Somerset is on her way to Philadelphia, Pa., for commissioning, scheduled for March 1, 2014. Upon commissioning, the Somerset will become the newest San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock to join the U.S. Navy. Philadelphia is a natural location for the commissioning, since the Somerset is named for the county in Pennsylvania where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed during the 9/11 attacks.
The commissioning ceremony is an important step for any ship. “The commissioning ceremony marks an important milestone in a ship’s life and completes the cycle from christening and launching to full status as a ship of the U.S. Navy,” said Capt. Thomas L. Dearborn, the Somerset‘s commanding officer. The crew, some of whom have been assigned to the Somerset for more than two years, are eager for the commissioning. “On March 1, 2014, when you hear the words ‘ … bring my ship to life,’ Somerset will come alive and her crew stand ready to take our place in America’s historic heritage of the sea,” added Dearborn.
“On March 1, 2014 when you hear the words ‘ … bring my ship to life,’ Somerset will come alive and her crew stand ready to take our place in America’s historic heritage of the sea.”
Before the Somerset departed for Philadelphia, several certifications had to occur. Among them were light-off assessment, damage control material assessment, crew certification phase two, and anti-terrorism force protection. Each certification required a passing rating before the ship could operate independently. “The certifications grades spoke volumes for the crew’s training and preparations, yielding high scores in all areas,” said the Somerset‘s Training Leading Chief Petty Officer, Chief Damage Controlman (SW/AW) Brian McGowan. By the end of the certification process the Somerset earned high praise. “Afloat Training Group Pacific gave high reviews, even going as far as saying ‘Somerset is one of the best ships on the west coast.’ I’m proud to serve on board and impressed with the caliber of sailors stationed here,” said McGowan. The Somerset is assigned to Afloat Training Group Pacific, and will be homeported in San Diego, Calif., upon commissioning.
The Somerset in intended to honor the brave passengers aboard Flight 93 who forced the plane down before it reached Washington, D.C. It is the third San Antonio-class ship named after the 9/11 victims and first responders. “It’s an honor to be on one of the Sept. 11 tribute ships and to be a part of a ship that represents so much heroism,” said Personnel Specialist 1st Class Katherine Limones. The USS New York (LPD 21) and the USS Arlington (LPD 24) have preceeded the Somerset.
“It’s an honor to be on one of the Sept. 11 tribute ships and to be a part of a ship that represents so much heroism.”
Editor’s Note: Defense Media Network published the official programs for the commissioning of the USS New York and the USS Arlington.