The Navy will christen the newest amphibious transport dock ship, PCU Arlington (LPD 24), during a 10 a.m. CDT ceremony at Northrop Grumman shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Miss, March 26.
The ship is named for the city of Arlington, Va., honoring the 184 victims in the air and on the ground who lost their lives when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon Sept. 11, 2001, as well as the military and civilian employees, emergency, fire and rescue personnel of Arlington County and surrounding communities who provided critical assistance after the attack.
Arlington County Fire Chief James Schwartz, the incident commander coordinating the rescue response efforts on the ground at the Pentagon during the Sept. 11 attack, will deliver the ceremony's principal address.
Joyce Rumsfeld, wife of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, is the ship's sponsor, and in accordance with Navy tradition, will break a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen the ship.
Designated LPD 24, Arlington is the eighth amphibious transport dock ship in the San Antonio class. As an element of future expeditionary strike groups, the ship will support the Marine Corps "mobility triad," which consists of the landing craft air cushion vehicle, amphibious vehicles and the Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.
Arlington will provide improved warfighting capabilities, including an advanced command-and-control suite, increased lift-capability in vehicle and cargo-carrying capacity and advanced ship-survivability features. The ship is capable of embarking a landing force of up to 800 Marines.
Two previous ships have carried the name Arlington. The first was a steel-hulled C1-B type cargo ship operating during World War II. The second USS Arlington was a 14,500-ton Vietnam War era, major communications relay ship, which assisted with communications during a June 1969 conference between U.S. President Nixon and Republic of Vietnam President Thieu.