When the US Navy announced that they were naming a new assault ship the USS New York after the 9/11 attacks, and using salvaged steel in her construction, I was proud of the idea, but had a minor quibble with the name. The ship is of the San Antonio class, and all her sister ships are named after United States cities. I thought she should be named the New York City, to honor the city itself and not the state. And it reminded me of another incident in naval history.
In the 1970’s, Iran felt the need to be a bit stronger militarily. It wanted to be considered a major player in the region, and thought seapower would be a good way to do it. So it ordered four destroyers from the United States. They were to be derived from the Spruance-class destroyers that were the state of the art in the US navy at the time, with some adaptations to better serve in the Persian Gulf.
But then fate intervened. Once the ships were finished, but before they could be delivered, the Shah of Iran fell and the Ayatollah Khomeini took over, and the US embassy was taken. Suddenly our greatest Muslim ally was now our bitterest enemy.
So the Navy decided to buy the ships themselves. Their existing names (Kouroush, Daryush, Nader, and Andushirvan) weren’t exactly suitable for US Naval warships. They were christened the Kidd, Callaghan, Scott, and Chandler, all named after admirals who had been killed in action during World War II. The “Dead Admiral” ships (also sometimes cynically called the “Ayatollah” class) served with honor and distinction for about 20 years before being retired by the Navy, and now they are being sold to Taiwan, where they will continue their career in defending democracy and freedom.
And now we have the USS New York, who is being joined by two sister ships, the USS Arlington and USS Somerset. The Arlington is being named after the county where the Pentagon sits, and the Somerset for the county where Flight 93 came to earth.
The New York already carries the marks of a second American tragedy. She is being built in New Orleans, and Hurricane Katrina disrupted her construction. But she survived, and will proudly serve once she is completed
The purist in me wishes that LPD-21 was named New York City or Manhattan County, and not just New York. But that is the slightest quibble, and her motto is one we should all take to heart.