Navy pays tribute to Flight 93 with new ship, USS Somerset

Philadelphia - A new U.S. Navy ship named to honor 40 passengers and crew killed when their hijacked United Airlines flight crashed as they fought with terrorists during the Sept. 11 attacks was put into service Saturday in Philadelphia.

The USS Somerset is named for the southwestern Pennsylvania county where Flight 93 crashed. With its 684-foot starboard side serving as the backdrop, the amphibious transport dock warship was commissioned before more than 5,000 spectators at Penn's Landing.

"What we commemorate is not that war or an attack on America," said Sen. Pat Toomey. "We commemorate the day America began to fight back."

The Somerset is the third ship to be named in honor of 9/11 victims, joining the USS New York and USS Arlington, which honor those killed in the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon during the attacks.

After its crew manned the ship, the Somerset's commanding officer, Capt. Thomas Dearborn, said, "Somerset, let's roll," paying homage to Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer's famous rallying cry. Beamer helped lead the passenger rebellion that led to the plane crashing about 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. Investigators believe the hijackers planned to target the White House or Capitol.

The Somerset was christened in Avondale, La., at the Huntington Ingalls shipyard in 2012 and delivered to the U.S. Navy in October 2013. It has been docked in Philadelphia for more than a week and was scheduled to depart Tuesday for its home port in San Diego.

Dave Whelan, 67, a cousin of Flight 93 passenger Richard Guadagno, said the ship embodied the spirit of the country.

"This ship and the people on it will be prepared to do whatever they have to do," he said.

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