USS Arlington Commissioned at Norfolk Saturday

Ship arrived in Norfolk last week

Saturday, Apr 6, 2013  |  Updated 7:53 PM EDT
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The USS ARLINGTON is now the newest ship in the U.S. Navy after an elaborate ceremony this afternoon in Norfolk.

NBCWashington - Joe Krebs

The USS ARLINGTON is now the newest ship in the U.S. Navy after an elaborate ceremony this afternoon in Norfolk.

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Tour the To-Be USS Arlington

News4's Joe Krebs got an exclusive tour of the U.S. Navy ship that will be commissioned the USS Arlington Saturday.

Honoring Arlington's Bravest

News4's Joe Krebs speaks to Arlington County Fire Chief Jim Schwartz and Seaman Recruit Edward Florentino Jr. prior to the commissioning ceremony for the USS Arlington
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An amphibious transport dock that contains steel taken from the Pentagon following the September 11 attacks was commissioned the USS Arlington in a ceremony Saturday afternoon in Norfolk.

In all, the Navy estimated that about 5,000 people attended the ceremony, including Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell; Rep. Jim Moran, whose district encompasses Arlington County, and some family members of the victims of the 2001 terror attacks.

Construction began on the ship in 2008 and she was christened in 2011. The 684-feet long vessel has a crew of 363 and can carry 800 troops, 14 expeditionary vehicles and 14 helicopters. It will be used to transport troops to war zones around the world.

"We are not a memorial, we are a warship. But we carry the spirit of those 184 people that died that day. We know why we got our name,'' Cmdr. Darren Nelson, the ship's commanding officer, told reporters the day before the ship was commissioned. "We teach that to the crew. Every crew member that shows up on board this ship learns and understands that 184 people gave their life for us.''

One of those 184 people was Charles Sabin, the uncle of Seaman Edward Florentino Jr.

"There's a huge sense of pride, not just myself, but my family, to be a part of this ship," Florentino told News4's Joe Krebs.

Two previous ships have had the name Arlington. The first was a cargo ship in World War II. The second USS Arlington was a Vietnam War-era communications relay ship, which the Navy says assisted with communications during a June 1969 conference between U.S. President Richard Nixon and Republic of Vietnam President Nguyen Van Thieu.

The other amphibious transport docks named after 9/11 attack sites are the USS New York and the USS Somerset. The USS New York was built with steel from the World Trade Center and recently completed its first deployment. The USS Somerset is named for the Pennsylvania county where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed. It was christened in July.

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