Report from America: The Christening of the USS George H. W. Bush: A Paean to Manufacturing

By October 7, 2006Report from America

Report from AmericaA great event today, the christening of the USS George H. W. Bush. It was only fitting that the lead manufacturing voice in the country, NAM President John Engler, was right up there in the front for the whole shebang. (We were back in the cheap seats, enjoyed it nonetheless.) The weather could have cooperated a bit more, but it still was great, sitting in the shadow of this enormous, 90,000-ton ship. It is also a testament to nuclear energy for us all. This ship is powered by two nuclear reactors that can operate for more than 20 years without refueling.

Everywhere you looked, it was a testament to manufacturing, whether driving through the yards to get to the event (clearly a manufacturing facility) to the many kudos given by the speakers to the workers who built this engineering beauty, manufacturing was in the air. Several thousand manufacturing suppliers provide parts for the ship, designated CVN-77. (For you neophytes out there, “C” means it’s an aircraft carrier, “V” means it has fixed-wing aircraft — as vs. helicopters, or ‘”helos” in Navy parlance — and “N” denotes that it’s a nuclear-powered ship.)

Former President Bush was gracious in his praise for the workers and for the armed services, many of whom were in attendance. We sat right next to their section, officers and enlisted alike. At the first note of the National Anthem, every one of them snapped a crisp salute which they held for the duration of the song. It was impressive to see.

Luminaries included President Bush, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, both Virginia Senators — Warner and Allen — Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and Ron Sugar, CEO of shipbuilder (and proud NAM member) Northrop-Grumman. All the Navy top brass also came out on this auspicious day to salute this great ship and its namesake. At the end of the ceremony, Doro Bush Koch — “43’s” sister and “41’s” daughter — broke a bottle of the traditional sparkling American wine across the bow, and the christening was official. Much more work remains to be done on the ship and it will sail after it is commissioned, in about two years.

As we noted, we had the honor of serving in “41’s” Administration. It is fitting that this ship is named for a man who dedicated his life to public service. It will have many years of public service itself, and will carry men and women who all aspire to the greatness that he achieved. To echo former President Bush’s comments, we wish smooth seas and following winds to the USS George H.W. Bush and the many men and women who will be its crew over its lifetime.

And we salute all the manufacturers who made this great ship possible. They are indeed the best shipbuilders, the best manufacturers in the world. We were glad we could be with them today — it was a special day for them, too.

Click here to see a video of the day’s events and click here to see President Bush’s (“43”) remarks.