Naming The Next Aircraft Carrier
There's an interesting article in The Virginian-Pilot about the upcoming naming of CVN 78. This is an especially important decision because this carrier will be the lead ship of the post-Nimitz class of carriers; hence, the ship's name will be the class name as well. It seems that Senators Warner and Levin amended the 2007 Defense Authorization Bill to "direct" the Navy to name the carrier for President Gerald Ford (see Sect. 1013 on this page to see the wording of the amendment, in the SA 4211 section) -- although this was apparently changed to "encourage" before final passage. It seems that there's an organization who is extremely opposed to this; they want the CVN 78 to be USS America. Some excerpts from the top-linked article:
An 1819 act of Congress gives the s ecretary of the Navy responsibility for choosing ship names, a prerogative he still exercises, according to the Naval Historical Center's Web site.The article goes on to talk a little about the recent naming of submarines:
Sens. John Warner, R-Va., and Carl Levin, D-Mich., amended the 2007 defense bill to encourage the Navy to name the next carrier after Ford, who served in the Navy during World War II and grew up in Michigan.
"At least we were able to get the wording changed in the amendment from being a mandate to a recommendation," Waite said.
Warner is the outgoing chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Levin is the incoming chairman.
Efforts to sway the Navy secretary to name a ship after a city, a hero or a famous person are not new, said Defense Department spokesman Kevin Wensing. When residents of New Mexico asked that a ship be named for their state, more than 20,000 signed petitions, he said.Ignoring for a moment the apparent fact that a DoD spokesman doesn't know that a seawolf is a fish, I find myself agreeing with the traditionalists. While I admire President Ford (one of the five consecutive Navy veteran Presidents we had between 1961 and 1980), I'm not sure if an entire class of carriers should be named after him. On the other hand, "America" doesn't have the most distinguished lineage of U.S. Navy ship names -- it's not bad, it's just not the best. If they do change Congress' mind and allow the SecNav to name the ship America, they'll hopefully continue naming the class for famous ships in American history. If they do, the 2nd ship of the class will absolutely have to carry what is arguably the most storied name in the U.S. Navy, that will otherwise go unused after about 2015: USS Enterprise. To lose that name from the fleet would be criminal. (Note: This topic was also covered at WizBang! back in June.)
"We said, OK, enough, we get it," Wensing said. In December 2004, then-Navy Secretary Gordon England named the sixth ship of the Virginia-class of nuclear-powered submarines the New Mexico.
Wensing would not disclose other names being suggested for CVN 78.
He did say, however, that the ship-naming process is so varied that it doesn't always follow any reason. For example, the three submarines in the Seawolf class are named Seawolf, Connecticut and Jimmy Carter, Wensing said.
"So they are named after a seawolf, whatever that is, a state and a former president. Go figure."