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Good morning, everyone! It is wonderful to be with you here in Philadelphia for Navy Week.
The last time Philadelphia hosted a Navy Week was in 2011, and I am honored to be here today, celebrating our return to this historic city.
I hope that this week allows the citizens of not only Philadelphia but also Pennsylvania to learn more about the Navy and how the Navy ensures national security and prosperity.
Since 2005, Navy Week engagements have been a highlight for our Navy, allowing our uniformed personnel to share their stories of service with cities across the country, deepening the bonds between our Navy, our Marine Corps, and the American public they serve.
I cannot think of a city with a richer maritime history than Philadelphia. As the birthplace of not only American Democracy, but also both the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps, Philadelphia is undoubtedly a “Navy Town.”
Philadelphia Navy Yard — founded in 1776 as a commercial shipyard — throughout its duration, played an important role in building and maintaining our Fleet.
The Philadelphia Navy Yard consistently delivered the ships our Fleet needed for over 150 years. From USS Franklin — the yard’s first warship, launched in 1815 — the battleship USS New Jersey, to the last new ship built at the yard — the current U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge — the ships constructed here at PNY served our Nation in both times of peace and conflict with distinction.
Today, the Philadelphia Navy Yard is no longer owned by the Navy, but instead is an American landmark and a thriving 1,200 acre business community, resulting in the most successful commercial redevelopment of a former military facility in the country.
The Port of Philadelphia, from its origins has held a reputation for fast, expert handling of any cargo imaginable and plays a central role in the economic health of the nation.
In 2002, The Port of Philadelphia was named as a strategic military port by the Department of Defense, highlighting its important role in ensuring military cargo destined for various points around the globe.
The Port of Philadelphia has also served as the site for Navy ship ceremonies. USS Somerset (LPD 25), named to honor the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 whose actions prevented terrorist hijackers from reaching their intended target by forcing the airplane to crash in Somerset County, PA, was commissioned at the port in 2014.
The relationship with the Navy and Philadelphia is defined by more than just the city’s shipyard and port, but also by the service of its people.
Led by Colonel Ciuccoli, the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Philadelphia Consortium, trains approximately 100 midshipmen per academic year enrolled at four Philadelphia Universities; University of Pennsylvania, Villanova University, Drexel University, and Temple University.
This naval officer development program enables a strong civil-military relationship, with Midshipmen engaging as student leaders in academia and volunteering in communities across the Philadelphia area.
Looking back at Philadelphia’s maritime legacy, I can only be proud. And while our Navy’s footprint throughout the city has decreased over the years, Philadelphia’s support of our Navy remains as strong as ever.
And today, here at Independence Hall, I am pleased to announce that, in honor of this city’s naval legacy, we will be welcoming a USS Philadelphia back into our fleet.
USS Philadelphia (LPD 32), once commissioned, will be our nation’s newest San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock (LPD).
LPDs are warships that are used to transport and land Marines, their equipment, and supplies across the globe, and are manned by crews comprised of both Sailors and Marines, making our next USS Philadelphia a fitting tribute to the city that is the birthplace of both services.
Our newest USS Philadelphia will follow in the wake of the six prior USS Philadelphia’s, all six of which played critical roles in defending our nation since its founding.
This ship will build upon the legacy of her namesakes, and will no doubt represent the people of this city and our nation with honor wherever she may sail.
And I am pleased to announce that our ship sponsor for USS Philadelphia will be Mrs. Maureen Paparo.
Mrs. Paparo, a native of Philadelphia — and graduate of Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls and Villanova University — is the wife of U.S. Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Sam Paparo, who also a Villanova University alum.
For decades, Mrs. Paparo has been a staunch supporter of our Fleet, both as a former U.S. Navy civilian employee and as an advocate for our Navy families throughout several assignments during her husband’s career.
According to naval tradition, a ship sponsor’s spirit and presence guides the ship and her crew throughout her time in service, serving as the bond that connects the ship to its namesake.
I have no doubt that Mrs. Paparo will be that bond between the ship, her crew, and the city that she loves dearly.
To the citizens of Philadelphia, thank you for welcoming our Sailors and Marines to your city once again for this year’s Navy Week.
May God continue to grant our nation and our people fair winds and following seas.
Link to press release HERE.
Carlos Del Toro
12 October 2023
16 October 2023
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