Saturday, November 23, 2013

New Kids in the Class!

Sarge's post earlier in the week sounded like he might need some help from his wingman in the blog material department.  I can't say I'm much of a wingman- more like a weak substitute teacher who comes into the classroom and can't teach.  But since I'm on the subject of class...

The USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) timelapse got me to thinking about the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), and how I haven't seen a similar video about her.  She was christened just three weeks after Zumwalt- somewhat of a historic event if there ever was one as the Navy has never christened two ships of two entirely new classes in such a short amount of time.  By the way, I know it's proper to capitalize the names of ships, but it looks like I'm yelling and it hurts my eyes.

As this post was sitting in the chamber, ready to be fired off, Sarge informed me that due to the Government Shutdown the christening of Zumwalt was moved from the originally planned date of 19 October to sometime in the spring of 2014.  Five months because of a 3 week shutdown?  Methinks this sounds like govt/contractor speak for "we ain't ready."  But why should I let facts interfere with history and ruin the whole premise of this post?  So for artistic literary license, I'm going to obfuscate the difference between christening and launching, and continue on.  I'm freely doing that later on anyway when I list a bunch of ships of which I can't determine their christening dates so I just use their launch date.  Now class, if you'll all open your books to the next paragraph, I'll continue this post.

The Ford is quite a bit different from the Nimitz Class Carriers, at least among us purists.  Someone on Facebook commented that from the back she looks like an Imperial Star Destroyer.  As for her differences (no, not from a Star Destroyer- from Nimitz), the superstructure has changed considerably, the aft sponsons seem to be almost stealthy, she's a tad shorter, and a bit wider, do my sponsons make my butt look big?  She also has an electromagnetic catapult, the Rolling Airframe Missile and only 3 arresting wires, but those last two items have been incorporated into later hulls of the Nimitz Class.  Notice the absence of an SPS-48 aft and take another look at the superstructure- yep, them are arrays of the SPY-3 Radar which are also on the Zumwalt.

Here's a timelapse of her being built. Fairly dull in my opinion, until you get to about 1:50 or so.

 But I digress (Sarge has taught me well) - Christening two brand-spanking-new ship classes in 3 weeks time is the fastest the Navy has done it since the USS Long Beach (CGN-9) and USS Charles F. Adams (DDG-2) were launched in July and September of 1959.


That could be considered an anomaly, (or just for blog-lengthening argument's sake let's say that doesn't count), as the Long Beach, the first nuclear cruiser, was the only ship of her class.  Long Beach was supposed to be my first ship- at least the first ship I sailed on as a 3rd Class Midshipman back in 1987, but she was sent to the Gulf for Operation Earnest Will, and I was waylaid at the last minute onto the USS Texas (CGN-39).  I also went underway on an Adams Class Destroyer in 1988 as part of my summer training, but I can't recall which one.

Speaking of another first of her class nuke cruiser, the USS California (CGN-36), while not paired up with another ship, was launched in 1971.  Another item of note from that year was Notre Dame beating UCLA- only significant in that UCLA would go on to win 88 straight games from then on. I'm only throwing California in here since I'm a native and it helps me make a later point.

To find a more pure example of historic ship building, one must jump forward to 1973 when the USS Spruance (DD-976) was launched on November 10th and the USS Tarawa floated on December 1st- another 21 day gap.  Must be a lucky number or something.


"Proud Eagle" USS TARAWA (LHA-1)
Tarawa was the first Gator I'd ever been on, again as a Middie, even departing in Marine fashion via an LCU (Landing Craft Utility- somewhat akin to the Mike Boats of WWII).  When the LCU got stuck on a sandbar and we had to wade in waist deep in our khakis back onto the beach, I lost what little interest I had in becoming a member of the Corps.

Next came 1974.  That year saw the 55 mph speed limit imposed by President Nixon, Notre Dame won again, breaking UCLA's 88 game win streak on the hardwood, The F-16 flew for the first time, and the Navy launched both the USS Los Angeles (SSN-688) and the USS Virginia (CGN-38)- in April and December respectively.  


Ok, just kidding.  Here's the actual USS LA- SSN 688:

We were really punching out the Nuclear Cruisers back then.  Unfortunately the last of them were the  aforementioned "Golden Grizzly" and the USS South Carolina which were decommissioned within weeks of each other in July of 1999.  I never sailed in an all-nuke Strike Group, but these nuke cruisers allowed the Carrier Strike Group to literally travel around the world non-stop.  Why the interest in the CGNs you might ask?  I thought I might be a Surface Nuke way back when, when I thought that hay fever would keep me out of flight school.  It would, but a crusty old Senior Chief told me it would only keep me out of the air if I told someone I had it.  I never had hay fever again!

Lastly, the USS Ohio (SSBN/SSGN-726), and the USS Kidd (DDG-963) were launched in April and August of 1979.  That paring doesn't really "count" either in that the Kidd Class Guided Missile Destroyers were built for Iran, and we only added them to our Fleet after some SOBs took down our Embassy in Tehran.

USS Kidd- lead ship of the "Ayatollah" Class
USS OHIO undergoing conversion from SSBN to SSGN.
Other unfortunate events from '79 include a girl in San Diego not liking Mondays, Three Mile Island, and Disco being in full swing.  However, one more historic account includes 55 officers and 375 enlisted personnel being permanently assigned to Navy ships that year- all of them women- paving the way for the WSO and the Nuke.  Those two ladies, one of which helped run our CVNs, and the other who flies off them, provide me with a good segway back to the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), first in her class along with the USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000).  Two historic ships, two very transformational hulls as the lead ships in their class born 21* days apart...

*Government shutdown be damned


  1. I'll apologize for the formatting of the pictures. I just can't figure out how to properly place them side by side consistently.

    1. Blogger is VERY obtuse in that particular area. You ain't alone, Tuna.

    2. I dunno Tuna, it looks okay to me. Very artistic and aesthetically pleasing.

      And I spent some time this morning trying (in vain) to tweak some of the formatting. Blogger is a formidable opponent at times!

    3. I agree, it looks good to me. I haven't been able to figure out how to post them side by side at all. They just go where they want. I also agree with the proper way to write ship's names but I reckon it aint a US warship until it commissions so you got some wriggle room left with Gerald R. Ford and Zumwalk. How's that for a typo?

    4. Heh, I see what you did there Cap'n.

  2. USS LOS ANGELES (at sea)

    Heh. Truth in blogging!

    1. Heh. Sprayed the monitor on that one I did.

      Well played Tuna.

  3. Dunno, I thought it was the SAN FRANCISCO... :-P

    1. Urpppp...

      Just sprayed the old monitor again.

      A little P-3 humor?