They are years away from sea trials, much less active service, but the Navy’s two newest aircraft carriers were steered through a tricky political strait Thursday.
The White House disclosed that the ships, one under construction at Newport News (Va.) Shipbuilding and one approved by Congress last fall, will be named, respectively, for former Presidents Harry S. Truman and Ronald Reagan.
The decision by Navy Secretary John H. Dalton produced bipartisan delight on Capitol Hill, where Republicans and Democrats had launched competing efforts to have the newest carrier named for Reagan and Truman.
Clinton, who referred glowingly to both ex-presidents during his State of the Union speech last week, said Thursday, “The courage and wisdom of President Truman’s decisions … provided the foundation for 40 years of peace and stability.”
Clinton called Reagan “an American leader unsurpassed in his boundless patriotism and love for the armed forces.”
The Truman is slated for completion in 1998. The Reagan, also to be constructed at Newport News, is expected to be completed in 2002. Five other carriers are named for presidents - the George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy.