"Being there on their hallowed ground, listening to their speeches, meeting with the family members and friends, was a very moving experience," he said.
Now, he commands the 634-foot-long ship, a floating tribute to the heroism of the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93, who stormed the cockpit, wrested control from the hijackers and crashed the plane in Stonycreek.
"All of the memorial tributes that we have made from
Docked at Penn's Landing with the
"What Somerset brings is a 21st century amphibious shipbuilding and war-fighting technology, to provide the
The ship can carry a significant amount of humanitarian relief, Dearborn said.
"There is a tremendous need for not only foreign humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, but in the homeland as well, which we refer to as defense support to civil authority. What this ship provides is a capability to bring a lot of relief and supplies on board," he said.
Equipped with two full operating rooms, the ship has "the capability of some of the larger hospitals that you may have in the
The ship is designed to launch Ch-46 helicopters, MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and assault watercraft to bring as many as 1,200 troops ashore. Its four diesels can power the ship in excess of 22 knots, or 26.2 miles. Its armament includes two missile launchers and 10 machine guns.
Many of the 400 crew members were in junior high school or younger during the terrorist attacks on
Serving aboard the USS Somerset is a "huge honor," said Steele, a self-described "
"I have the responsibility not only for myself and my family, but to the 40 crew members (and passengers) who perished on that plane," Steele said.
The USS Somerset is the ninth
The warship is one of more than 100 named in honor of places and people in
Markers and mementos throughout the ship tell the story of
The ship carries a U.S. flag that flew on a coal dragline on a hill above the crash site.
Steel from the drag-line bucket of a coal-mining crane was used in the ship's bow, and its steam and lubrication systems include about 200 steel valves made in the county.
Hallways are marked with green and white signs from each of
Maple from a tree-clearing project along
Victims' family members contributed coins and mementos that were part of the ship's construction.
Emblazoned atop the hangar door is the number 93 and the rallying cry that passenger
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