When the USS Somerset is commissioned in Philadelphia March 1, a University of Maine alumnus will be at the helm as its first commanding officer, and a retired Navy captain and now UMaine professor will be in the audience, representing Maine’s flagship university.
The first commanding officer of the USS Somerset, Capt. Thomas Dearborn, a native of Mount Vernon, Maine, received his commission in 1988 through the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) program at the UMaine, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in production and processing technology.
James Settele, the executive director of the University of Maine School of Policy and International Affairs, will also represent UMaine at the commissioning. Settele is a retired captain from the U.S. Navy who served more than 27 years on active duty.
The USS Somerset is named in honor of the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed in Somerset County, Penn., on Sept. 11, 2001. The San Antonio-class ship joins the USS New York and USS Arlington named in commemoration of the 9/11 attacks.
The 22-ton steel bucket that was used by recovery personnel at the scene of the Flight 93 crash was melted down and cast into the Somerset’s bow stem, “embodying the strength and determination of the people of the United States to recover, to rally, to take the fight to the enemy,” according to the Navy League of the United States, which is organizing the commissioning.
The USS Somerset was launched in 2012. The March 1 ceremony is the formal shipboard commissioning that celebrates the ship’s formal entry into Navy service.