christened the nation's 10th and final Nimitz-class aircraft carrier
, George H. W. Bush
(CVN 77). The ship's namesake and 41st
President of the United States, George H. W. Bush, attended the
ceremony and became the first president in the shipyard's 120-year
history to participate in the christening of his namesake ship.
"I can't wait to see this remarkable, state-of-the-art vessel go
to sea," Bush said. "And when it does, I want to get permission from
the commander in chief to be on board. I hope the American people will
accept my deepest gratitude for the chance to serve this nation, an
honor that touches deep in my heart."
Several members of the Bush family were on hand for the special
occasion, including the former president's wife Barbara and their
daughter, Doro Bush Koch. Mrs. Koch serves as the ship's sponsor and
performed the traditional honor of breaking a bottle of American
sparkling wine across the ship's bow during the ceremony.
President George W. Bush also attended and honored his father
during the ceremony as a special guest speaker.
"On this proud day," President Bush said, "the children of
George H.W. Bush bless their father's name, the United States Navy
honors his name, and the ship that bears his name sails into this young
century as a symbol of America's strength and freedom."
Other officials participating in the ceremony included Secretary
of Defense Donald Rumsfeld; Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter;
Virginia Senators John Warner and George Allen; Virginia Gov. Tim
Kaine; Adm. Michael Mullen, Chief of Naval Operations; Ronald D. Sugar,
chairman and chief executive officer of Northrop Grumman Corporation;
and Mike Petters
, president of Northrop Grumman Newport News.
Petters paid special tribute to the men and women who build
aircraft carriers. "They do this work day in and day out in blistering
heat, freezing cold and in the rain," he said. "It is dangerous work.
It is difficult and demanding work. And it is noble work.
"Every ship built here has proven a credit to our nation and to
the proud people who build them," Petters added. "I know that this
mighty ship, George H.W. Bush, will follow in that tradition."
The George H. W. Bush is the nation's tenth and final
Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. Northrop Grumman Newport News has built
11 of the U.S. Navy's 12 active carriers, including all 10 ships of the
At 1,092 ft. in length, George H. W. Bush is nearly as long as
the Empire State Building is tall. Upon delivery to the Navy in late
2008, it will weigh 97,000 tons and carry more than 80 combat aircraft.
Its top speed will exceed 30 knots and powered with two nuclear
reactors, it will operate for more than 20 years without refueling.