The (A)SECNAV over the weekend announced that, in honor of MLK Day, USS West Virginia Pearl Harbor hero cook PO3 Dorie Miller will be the namesake of a new Gerald Ford-class carrier, the future CVN-81.
Of course, it does kinda rub me a skosh the wrong way as far as naming conventions go, with aircraft carriers generally named after famous battles, other aircraft carriers, and presidents. Traditionally, destroyers and frigates were named in honor of naval heroes up to and including Medal of Honor winners. In fact, Miller formerly had a Cold War-era Knox-class frigate named after him (DE/FF-1091)
Still, in my mind, it is far better to name a carrier for Miller than for Carl Vinson and John Stennis, as have been done in the past, just saying.
Sure, you can argue that Vinson and Stennis both held and pulled important purse strings while in Capitol Hill for the military– but they never had to face down an incoming Japanese Val with a machine gun they were never trained to use.
As noted by Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly’s office:
This will be the second ship named in honor of Miller, and the first aircraft carrier ever named for an African American. This will also be the first aircraft carrier to be named in honor of a Sailor for actions while serving in the enlisted ranks.
“In selecting this name, we honor the contributions of all our enlisted ranks, past and present, men and women, of every race, religion and background,” said Modly. “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. observed, ‘Everybody can be great – because anybody can serve’. No one understands the importance and true meaning of service than those who have volunteered to put the needs of others above themselves.”
On Dec. 7, 1941, Miller was collecting laundry on the battleship West Virginia (BB-48), when the attack from Japanese forces commenced. When the alarm for general quarters sounded he headed for his battle station, an anti-aircraft battery magazine, only to discover that torpedo damage had wrecked it. Miller was ordered to the ship’s bridge to aid the mortally wounded commanding officer, and subsequently manned a .50 caliber Browning anti-aircraft machine gun until he ran out of ammunition. Miller then helped move many other injured Sailors as the ship was ordered abandoned due to her own fires and flaming oil floating down from the destroyed Arizona (BB-33). West Virginia lost 150 of its 1,500 person crew.
Miller’s actions during the attack earned him a commendation from then Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox and the Navy Cross, which was presented to him personally by Adm. Chester Nimitz, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at the time.
Nimitz stated: this marks the first time in this conflict that such high tribute has been made in the Pacific Fleet to a member of his race and I’m sure the future will see others similarly honored for brave acts.
“Doris Miller stood for everything that is good about our nation, and his story deserves to be remembered and repeated wherever our people continue the watch today,” said Modly.
In 1943, Miller died aboard USS Liscome Bay (CVE 56) when the ship was hit by a torpedo and sank off Butaritari Atoll in the Gilbert Islands.
The future USS Doris Miller and other Ford-class carriers will be the premier forward asset for crisis response and humanitarian relief, and early decisive striking power in major combat operations. The aircraft carrier and the carrier strike group will provide forward presence, rapid response, endurance on station, and multi-mission capability throughout its 50-year service life.
Meanwhile, USS Gerald R. Ford is apparently making good progress when it comes to launches and traps on Hornets, Greyhounds and T-45 Goshawks, working through teething problems on its Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch Systems (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG), which is good news as far as the class itself goes.
Hopefully, they will get the bugs worked out before the next “big one,” a factor that could help deter just such an event.
The Navy just awarded some $15.2B to Newport News for work on the two Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers, the 9th USS Enterprise (CVN-80) PCU, and the as-yet-to-be-named CVN-81. The ships are slated to replacing the 1970s vintage Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) and USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), respectively, when they commission in the 2030s. By then, hopefully they will get their cats and elevators worked out.
Of note, Enterprise will be Newport News’ third flattop with the same name, as they also constructed both CVA(N)-65 and CV-6 in the 1930s and 1960s, respectively.
Huntington Ingalls Industries – Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia, is awarded the detail design and construction (DD&C) efforts for nuclear-powered aircraft carriers Enterprise (CVN 80) and unnamed CVN 81 under the following contract actions: (1) A $14,917,738,145 fixed-price-incentive-firm target modification to previously awarded contract N00024-16-C-2116 for DD&C efforts for the future USS Enterprise (CVN 80) and unnamed CVN 81. The current contract for advance procurement funded efforts has been in place since 2016. (2) A $263,096,868 cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to previously awarded contract N00024-16-C-2116 for associated research and development efforts. (3) A $31,097,671 cost-plus-fixed-fee modification for additional level-of-effort in support of maintenance of the CVN 78 class specification, design efforts, feasibility and tradeoff studies, and scoping and estimating. Work under this contract will be performed in Newport News, Virginia (62 percent); Sunnyvale, California (5 percent); Coatesville, Pennsylvania (3 percent); Wellsville, New York (1 percent); Cincinnati, Ohio (1 percent); Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1 percent); and various locations below one percent (27 percent), and is expected to be completed by February 2032. Fiscal 2018 and 2019 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy) funding; and fiscal 2019 research, development, test and evaluation (Navy) funding in the amount of $889,830,279 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured, in accordance with Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1(a)(2)(iii) – only one responsible source and no other supplies or services will satisfy agency requirements. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity.