President George W. Bush will deliver the principal address at the christening ceremony of the Navy's newest aircraft carrier, Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), on Sunday, March 4, 2001, at 2 p.m. EST at Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Va.
The carrier is named in honor of America's 40th president Ronald Reagan who was born in Tampico, Ill., on Feb. 6, 1911. During his two-term administration (1980-1989), Reagan was a great advocate of naval power, calling for an effort to rebuild U.S. military capability to a 15-carrier, 600-ship Navy. Reagan demonstrated his strategic understanding of aircraft carriers' importance as both war fighting and peacekeeping assets by initiating four Nimitz-class carriers. By the time he left office, he achieved a 15-carrier Navy of 594 ships deployed around the world.
Nancy Reagan, wife of the ship's namesake, will serve as ship's sponsor. In the time-honored Navy tradition, she will break a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen Ronald Reagan. Among the guests attending the ceremony will be Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Sens. John Warner and George Allen, Secretary of the Navy (Acting) Robert B. Pirie Jr., Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark, and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Newport News Shipbuilding William P. Fricks.
The Reagan is the ninth of the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers authorized by Congress. Aircraft carriers are deployed worldwide in support of U.S. interests and commitments. They can respond to global crises in ways ranging from peacetime presence to full-scale war.
Capt. J.W. Goodwin, a native of Dublin, Ga., and graduate of the University of South Carolina is the prospective commanding officer, commanding a crew of more than 6,000 officers and enlisted personnel. The Reagan will join the fleet in 2003 upon its commissioning and is expected to serve the fleet for 50 years.
The carrier is 1,092 feet long, has a waterline beam of 134 feet, displaces approximately 95,000 tons of water when afloat, and has a 4.5-acre flight deck. This floating airfield will carry more than 80 aircraft and can cruise at speeds in excess of 30 knots. The ship's nuclear reactors are capable of more than 20 years of continuous service without refueling.
For more information on Nimitz-class carriers, visit:
http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/factfile/ships/ship-cv.html or http://www.reagan.navy.mil/