I had the opportunity to watch the USS Arlington LPD24 leave Huntington Ingalls early Friday morning and make its way to Norfolk, Va., for its commissioning on April 6.
I'd never seen a ship of that magnitude before. It was the length of over two football fields and could hold up to 800 Marine and naval sailors.
Many of the actual shipbuilders came out to watch the ship leave and it was evident they were proud of their accomplishment.
The USS Arlington was named to honor the 187 victims of Sept. 11, 2001 who lost their lives when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. It is one of three ships named in remembrance of those who died in the terrorist attacks on that day, along with the USS New York and the USS Somerset.
It was a little chilly Friday morning, which was perfect weather for launching a ship. Ropes draped around large spindle-like structures were dropped to release the ship. A tugboat then turned the ship around in the channel. With a large American flag flying, the USS Arlington left Ingalls and embarked on its journey.
The ship was extremely intimidating, which I suppose is one of the many uses of such a large vessel. The USS Arlington was built locally, named in honor of lives lost in a national tragedy, it will be commissioned in Virginia and will be used to protect America. Watching it leave Ingalls as a completed project was probably one of the most patriotic things I've ever seen.