USS RONALD REAGAN (CVN 76), "Peace Through Strength"
Sat Jul 12 15:45:16 2003

USS RONALD REAGAN (CVN 76), "Peace Through Strength"

USS Ronald Reagan commissioned
First U.S. carrier named for a living president

Saturday, July 12, 2003 Posted: 2:09 PM EDT (1809 GMT)

Nancy Reagan shakes hands with several crew members aboard the USS Ronald Reagan during preparations for the commissioning ceremony

NORFOLK, Virginia (AP) -- Petty Officer 1st Class Paul Fulsom became the first sailor assigned to the USS Ronald Reagan when he was transferred from Bahrain three years ago after the birth of his daughter, who needed surgery.

He's watched the carrier's construction since he reported to the Reagan on May 26, 2000. At the time, "you could look from the hangar bay up to the sky," the 32-year-old said.

On Saturday, the Reagan officially entered naval service with a commissioning ceremony at Norfolk Naval Station. And Fulsom, one of it's many sailors, says he's proud to serve on a carrier named after the nation's 40th president, a strong supporter of the Navy.

"To have my name in the same sentence as the former president is an honor in itself," Fulsom said.

Vice President Dick Cheney, speaking at the commissioning ceremony Saturday, also praised Reagan, saying today's Navy is in many ways a monument to his vision. By the time the two-term president left office in 1989, the Navy had nearly 600 ships -- about twice the ships it has today.

"He came to the presidency with a clear understanding of the tools our Navy would need to protect the American people," Cheney told the crowd.

The Navy invited 20,000 people, from sailors' families to various dignitaries, to attend the ceremony.

The Reagan is the first U.S. carrier to bear the name of a living president.

The former president, now 92, is living with Alzheimer's disease and rarely appears in public. But former first lady Nancy Reagan, who christened the ship in 2001, was on hand to give the traditional order to "bring her to life" Saturday -- which sends the sailors racing aboard the carrier.

At nearly 1,100 feet long and towering 20 stories above the waterline, the Reagan is expected to serve the Navy for more than 50 years.

It will be based in San Diego and be home to 6,000 sailors and carry more than 80 aircraft. With two nuclear reactors, the carrier can travel faster than 30 knots and operate for 20 years without refueling.

"Quite frankly, there's not a better name for an aircraft carrier than Ronald Reagan," said the ship's commanding officer, Capt. Bill Goodwin.
USS RONALD REAGAN (CVN 76), "Peace Through Strength"
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Welcome Aboard the USS Midway! Newly updated ship's readiness report is here! A look ahead at 2003! Web site hosting made possible by a donation by Old Town Trolley Tours, Inc., and its General Manager, Lorin Stewart
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