When the Navy responded to reports that the super-carrier George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) was to be commissioned before delivery, the Navy’s announcement was imprecise mush. Here’s what Navy Times reported:

Commissioning a ship before delivery, while rare, has happened before, the service said in its statement.

The Navy has commissioned ships prior to delivery on at least 15 occasions. The most recent ship commissioned prior to delivery was USS Chicago (SSN 721) in September 1986.”

The submarine Chicago also was built at Newport News, and was delivered 12 days after its Sept. 27, 1986, commissioning.

At least 15 ships? That frustratingly non-statistical statistic deserved some looking into…

So…A quick survey of the Naval Vessel Register offered up some data that could help the Navy sidestep the embarrassment of commissioning an undone ship (although commissioning a $6.4 billion-dollar ship that, with 97% of it coming in as “complete”, still has something like $200 million dollars of work left to do…is, at best, a stunner…).

But extra details remove a bit of the sting from providing the President with his second “Mission Accomplished” moment.

Why? Well, the George H.W. Bush is not alone! At least 20 nuclear submarines were commissioned before delivery–with the USS Nautilus (SSN-571) leading the way, commissioned some seven months before delivery. As far as surface ships go, the carrier USS Independence (CV-62) offers the best parallel, commissioned three months before delivery (It was commissioned on 1/10/1959 and delivered on 4/1/1959.).

That’s the kind of information commentators–of any political persuasion–can sink their teeth into. And it’s the kind of information the Naval Institute should demand from Navy PR people. (Photo: Northrop Grumman Newport News)


Posted by Defense Springboard in Navy

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  • Rubber Ducky

    Get Dave Baker to comment on this…

  • Byron

    One would suspect that the sitting president soon to leave office took advantage of a situation to make his Pops happy. Worse things have been done in the White House, and by far not this one alone, Ducky 😉

  • SeniorD

    If I were W I’d make sure a carrier named for good ol’ Dad was commissioned on my watch.

    Still, George H.W. won’t be seeing Fleet Service for at least another year.

  • Philip O’Leary

    Are you sure you are not making a mountain out of a molehill? I would be willing to bet the builders are still going to be held to contract even though it is an early comisioning which is more cerimonial then anything else

  • Philip O’Leary

    Im pretty sure the builders are still on contract for finishing the ships outfitting after its commisioning, are you sure your distaste for President Bush is not one of the reasons you wrote this blog?

  • Philip O’Leary

    Im pretty sure the builder are still on contract to finnish the ship after its premature commisioning. Is this blog being fueled by distaste for President Bush?

  • Was this related to the Enterprise decom? The requirement to keep 11 active CVNs?

  • Byron

    Doubt it. More like one last good thing to do for my dad before my watch was over.

  • Not Enterprise, but probably directly related to Kitty Hawk, which will decommission on 31 January at 10 AM.

  • Chap

    @PO’L: Apparently so.

  • Byron

    Phillip, not all of us feel that way about G.W. Bush. I personally think he was a good and decent man, who foound himself in a war not of his making, and did the best he could do to make his nation safe. Now Ducky, on the other hand, is a different story.

  • I’m no fan of political ships, that’s for certain. Ask yourselves, would we be spending the money (we are, after all, at war) to rush this carrier towards completion (with all the inherent quality control risks entailed by it) if the carrier were named–as Senator Warner once suggested on the pages of Proceedings–the Lexington?

    Probably not. Frankly, I’d like to see ship names rationalized–name garbage scows after politicos, and let capital ships revert to their traditional titles. They’ve done good by us.

    In fact, I’d suggest the next president rename ’em all. From Jimmy Carter to the Abe Lincoln to the Bush…it’s time to get the politics out of the Navy.

    And finally, those of you who claim this was a product of animus, read the post. Yeah, I’m no Bush fan, but I suggest some ways the Navy might have used to limit the awkwardness of commissioning an undone ship–where both Bush and the Navy look a bit better.

  • Philip O’Leary

    I personalyl have nothin against Bush and totally agree with Byron. In addition to that i belive he did the best he could and was the right man for the right time, as Obama is now. But we must be careful not to let personal feelings to influence what we write and post for all to read with out knowing all the details. I’m not a fan of politcal ships either, but i cannot do anything about it, personally I would of named CVN-77 or CVN-78 Langely sence it is the begining of a new era for the aircraft carrier, In addition to that I would of named LHA-6 Fallujah to keep a common naming system in place, as well as too honor the marines, sailors, soilders and airmen. I would also like to see some effort to bring back some other older names back to modern ships, Lexington, Saratoga, Yorktown, Ranger, Constellation….. instead of naming them after Admirals from the cold war era. But at the same time i would like to see newer names honored like Tora Bora, Kandahar, Ramadi, Khe Sahn and Da Nang as a homage to the heroism of all our service men were polotics is not an issue.

    Also i did not mean to post it three times but it did not seem to registar on my computer so i kept reposting so if the moderator wants to remove it…..

  • PK

    you guys need to walk up the gangway of enterprise, look up and see the huge sign in the hanger deck that says:

    ENTERPRISE, eighth ship of the name……..

    gives you squirrlies and curlies just to stand there and read the tail (it was all up there in detail when i saw it in 66).