Page 32: of Maritime Reporter Magazine (March 2003)

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U.S. Navy

Reagan Cuts an Imposing Path

By Greg Trauthwein

From the USS Monitor to Theodore Roosevelt's "Great White" fleet to today's development of the

Littoral Combat Ship, the U.S. Navy, its mission and its physical assets have undergone many complete metamorphoses over the country's 227-year history.

Despite all of the recent talk of the "new" navy, there is no greater symbol of U.S. Sea Superiority than the nuclear Aircraft Carrier. And. there is arguably no bet- ter namesake for the soon-to-be commissioned CVN- 76 than President Ronald Reagan, whose mission of a 600-ship Navy helped to define a generation.

At first glance, from outside appearances, CVN-76 may appear to be a standard nuclear Aircraft Carrier, though "standard" is a gross understatement in this instance. But housed in the hulking grey hull - a hull that measures more than 1,092 ft. (332.8 m) long, towers 20 stories above the waterline and sports a 4.5- acre flight deck - is a wealth of new technology and engineering advancements. These changes service to differentiate the Ronald Reagan from its predecessors and establish it as a platform for future carrier and fleet technology.

The Plug-and-Play City

A nuclear aircraft carrier is often likened to a stand- alone city, home to 6.000 personnel and self-sustain- ing for up to 90 days at a time, with everything from the most state-of-the-art land-based machine shop to a full dental and surgical unit.

Yet these modern manufacturing marvels are the biggest piece in an elaborate web of military might, designed not simply as the platform to launch and recover aircraft, but to serve as the nerve center and processing point for increasing amounts of informa- tion.

Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) features a completely redesigned pilothouse — the first major redesign, and the first ever designed using 3-D product modeling. The opening at the aft end brings the on-deck weapons elevator under cover, allowing for weapons handling during flight operations.

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