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Gore Speaks At Carrier Christening In Newport News

Vice President A1 Gore was the principal speaker at the christening of the 1,092-foot-long Nimitz Class nuclear aircraft carrier John C. Stennis (CVN 74) at Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS), Newport News, Va. An estimated 3,000 people showed for the event on Thursday, November 11 — Veterans Day.

The Vice President said in his remarks that while military power assists short-term national security, economic power is essential in the long-term. "Now that the Cold War is over, the shipbuilding ind u s t r y faces a new challenge. American shipbuilders must transfer their technical skills from the military to the commercial market," Mr. Gore said. He reassured those present that the Administration would help, citing the fivepoint plan President Clinton delivered to Congress October 1 to revitalize the shipbuilding industry. He said the plan would "supply important assistance for this talented work force here at Newport News — and in other shipyards around the country." Other speakers at the ceremony included John H. Dalton, secretary of the Navy, who introduced Mr. Gore; Sen. Thad Cochran, Miss.; Sen. Charles Robb, Va.; Sen. John Warner, Va.; Dana Mead, chief operating officer of Tenneco Inc., NNS's parent company; and W.R. "Pat" Phillips, Jr., president and CEO of NNS.

The Stennis was christened by Margaret Stennis Womble, daughter of the man it was named for, who smashed the bottle across the Stennis's bow with a single stroke, predicting good luck for the ship. The end of the ceremony was punctuated by an impressive flyover by four screaming jets in close formation.

Before it is completed and delivered in 1996, the Stennis will take about 40 million man-hours and almost five years to construct, incorporating 47,000 tons of structural steel and about a million pounds of aluminum. The Stennis towers twenty stories above the waterline and is almost as long as the Empire State Building is tall. It will be the home for about 6,000. It is capable of 30-plus knots, has two reactors which can operate 20 years without refueling, and can remain operational for half a century.

There have been six other Nimitz Class carriers: the Nimitz, the Dwight D. Eisenhower, Carl Vinson, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. The next Nimitz Class carrier, the United Vice President Al Gore spoke on the future of U.S. shipyards when the John C. Stennis aircraft carrier was christened at Newport News.

States, is scheduled for christening in 1996. The Enterprise (CVN 65), the first nuclear aircraft carrier, was delivered by NNS in 1961 and is now undergoing a major overhaul and refueling there.

Sen. Warner of the Armed Services Committee announced at the christening that the Senate had approved $1.2 billion for yet another nuclear aircraft carrier, CVN 76.

Former Mississippi State Senator John C. Stennis, age 92, for whom the aircraft carrier was named, was a Senate advocate of military strength and served 41 years under eight presidents, beginning with Harry Truman in 1947 and ending with Ronald Reagan in 1988. He retired from the Senate in 1988 and now resides in Madison, Miss.

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