The SOMERSET was christened on July 28, 2012. On October 18, 2013, it was delivered to the NAVY and her crew. Her homeport will be in San Diego, California the same intended destination State of Flight 93. That flight was scheduled to arrive in San Fransisco on September 11, 2001. Pennsylvania was chosen as the site of the commission to immortalize those who lost their lives in Somerset, Pennsylvania that day and this Naval ship has been named in their honor.
3. Three ships, New York LPD 21, Arlington LPD 24 and Somerset LPD 25 are named in honor of the victims and heroes of 911, all have been built by Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding. According to a January 19, 2011 press release, on January 15th, 2011, 22 members of the Families of Flight 93 taking a tour of the facilities in Avondale, Louisiana signed the hull of the LPD 25 with their name and the names of their family members. The ship sits 22 feet in the water. The 25 on the side stands for LPD25. There is no doubt, this is the room with the view and prominent staff will sit here but the crew below in navigation is just as vital as are every man and woman on board.
4. The crew consists of 380 commissioned Sailors, 31 officers and 349 enlisted, 69 females and 311 males. According to the brochure handed out, SOMERSET'S crew is the finest this nation can provide. After taking the tour on Wednesday offered to the public, they got my vote. I wish I had gotten the names of the sailors that gave us such an excellent tour but I can only describe them with pride. Our main guy was a native of Southern California and I believe has been with the ship since it was in New Orleans. He is excited to get back to his roots and to see his family once the ship docks at its next destination in San Diego. He was knowledgeable, professional and had an engaging humor.
5. Our second guide sinks the ship. typically this is not a job description you would think would hold high value on a Naval ship but he has an important job. He can drop the back end of the ship 10 feet to enable equipment to be loaded in and out of the craft. This happens in the hull of the ship. The flight deck which is an acre in size is above this area. I have them pictured in reverse order.
6. According to our tour guide, not only does rank guarantee better pay it also gives you better accommodations. We did pass by the captain's quarters but were not given a glimpse inside. The majority of enlisted men are in very close quarters. Here you see one side of a six person area. It has a new L-shaped design. A sailor has the luxury of additional head room and can sit up and read at night without crouching down or banging their head on the bunk above. Underneath the bunk is a storage area for personal belongings. There is not a lot of room for accessories and bling.
7. Speaking of accessories, these containers hold a life raft and when deployed can carry 50 sailors and or marines and also enough food for 25 days. I found that amazing and need to rethink what and how I repack for my next outing. 50 people, 25 days just incredible.
8. Some of the equipment that can be transported along with Marine personnel on board includes an Assault Amphibious Vehicle Personnel Variant, Humvee and Landing Craft Air Cushion and Utility. I must admit I had an eerie feeling when observing these vehicles. One of the little girls in our group turned to her father and asked, Did anyone die in here? This is a brand new ship but the equipment was not, and that was a harsh reality. Someone could have or could die as they are put in harms way.
9. The medical facilities are astounding and equipped with most of the machinery and tools found in our hospitals. There is permanent physician and dentist on staff at all times and on special occasions will carry a larger staff. The ship's physician spoke to us from the triage area next to one of the operating rooms. He explained that the triage area is where most of the injuries would be evaluated. There it would determined who would be treated first, who can wait and those that will not make it or who may have already died. There is a storage location for the deceased as well as a decontamination area if a soldier was exposed to a hazardous chemical. This is operating room 2.
10. Traces of what this ship stands for can be found throughout the boat. The town of Somerset donated street signs that you come across on the multi levels and twists and turns within the boats corridors.
Commemorative Flight 93 Hero Flag created by Gene Stilp
of Middle Paxton Township, PA is onboard.
The back of the brochure you are given at the beginning of the tour lists the names in alphabetical order of the
HEROS OF UNITED AIRLINE FLIGHT 93
LORRAINE G. BAY
TODD M. BEAMER
ALAN ANTHONY BEAVEN
DEORA FRANCES BODLEY
SANDY WAUGH BRADSHAW
MARION R. BRITTON
THOMAS E. BURNETT, JR.
WILLIAM JOSEPH CASHMAN
GEORGINE ROSS CORRIGAN
JASON M. DAHL
PATRICK JOSEPH DRISCOLL
EDWARD PORTER FELT
JANE C. FOLGER
COLLEEN L. FRASER
ANDREW (SONNY) GARCIA
JEREMY LOGAN GLICK
KRISTIN WHITE GOULD
LAUREN C. GRANDCOLAS and Unborn Child
WANDA ANITA GREEN
DONALD FREEMAN GREENE
RICHARD J. GUADAGNO
CEECEE ROSS LYLES
NICOLE CAROL MILLER
LOUIS J. NACKE, II
DONALD ARTHUR PETERSON
JEAN HOADLEY PETERSON
MARK DAVID ROTHENBERG
CHRISTINE ANN SNYDER
HONOR ELIZABETH WAINIO
DEBORAH JACOBS WELSH
I only wish the entire crew of the U.S.S. Somerset could be listed.
I do not personally know anyone currently serving in the military but that doesn't stop me from acknowledging and thanking all servicemen and women who serve and protect us.
They are also my heroes, as are their families.
I believe tours will be available on March 1st and 2nd after the private commissioning ceremony. You will need Photo ID to pass through security and don't forget to thank these men and women for their service to our country and for your protection.
The U.S.S. Somerset is on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Google it, there is lots of good stuff out there about it. It is a special opportunity to go down there at Penn's Landing and be welcomed aboard. Go check it out if you can. It is pretty amazing. If nothing else you will experience the humbleness of these people who put themselves in the line of danger every day for us. The average age of the crew is 28. How many of us have children that age and think, they are just kids? Fact is, they are all more adult than many of us will ever be and are to be admired.
It was a great tour.