The Final Voyage of the USS Enterprise

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Mark Krikorian, the Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies. He is the author of The New Case Against Immigration: Both Legal and Illegal.

FP: Mark Krikorian, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

The USS Enterprise is leaving on its final voyage. Tell us a bit about the USS Enterprise, why this is its last voyage, and what significance there is to this development.

Krikorian: The carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65) is the eighth Navy ship to bear that name, the first being in the Continental Navy in 1775. It was launched in 1961, the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, and was the successor to Enterprise CV-6, the famed World War II aircraft carrier, the most decorated ship in US Navy history.

Today’s USS Enterprise, nicknamed the “Big E”, is the second-oldest ship in the US Navy, after the wooden sailing ship USS Constitution (“Old Ironsides”). After more than half a century of service, the Big E will be decommissioned at the end of this year. The question is whether the glorious name Enterprise will continue in the Navy. There’s an effort underway to transfer the name to the next planned carrier, CVN-80. This would seem like a no-brainer, but unfortunately, it’s not. The two carriers already under construction, CVN-78 and 79, are already named the USS Gerald R. Ford and the USS John F. Kennedy. There’s a real possibility CVN-80 could be named the USS Bill Clinton, given that he’s next in line, as it were, with all the recent ex-presidents before him already having carriers named after them.

FP: All of this raises the broader question of our practices in naming warships, and even more broadly, the naming of anything by government. Your thoughts on this phenomenon?

Krikorian: I’m afraid the naming of ships, and a lot of other things owned by the government, has become politicized. The Navy used to name ships after battles, like the USS Yorktown, or states, like the USS Arizona, or characteristics of the nation or the ship, like the USS Intrepid or the USS Hornet. Now, getting a ship named after you is a kind of political payoff.

Most recently, the Navy named a new littoral combat ship the USS Gabrielle Giffords. I feel for the woman, as do we all, but what possible justification can there be for naming a warship after her? Is that really likely to inspire its crews to patriotic exertions? We also have USS John Murtha – apart from the late congressman’s many flaws, he was chairman of the House defense appropriations subcommittee, so the Navy is basically buying congressional support for new ships by naming them after the lawmakers who vote for them? Unbelievable.

Naming ships after living people is inappropriate even if they might actually warrant such an honor. The Navy’s newest carrier, launched in 2009, is named the USS George H. W. Bush. President Bush was a naval aviator in WWII, so naming a warship after him would have been a good idea – someday. Likewise with other ships – Ronald Reagan certainly warrants such an honor, but it was bestowed on him almost 10 years before his death. Same with Hyman Rickover, father of the nuclear Navy; Bob Hope, who spent so much time and energy lifting the spirits of our soldiers; and even the hapless Jimmy Carter, who was a Navy submariner.

Naming ships – or government buildings or anything else – after living politicians is the kind of thing you’d expect from an empire, not a republic. This is part of a trend that has sprung up elsewhere as government has grown and elected officials have come to think they own their jobs and the taxpayer money they disburse.

Exhibit A: Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan Robert Byrd (D-WV), who named practically every federal installation in West Virginia after himself.

How far are we, really, from Saparmurat Niyazov, the late dictator of Turkmenistan, who renamed the days of the week and the months of the year after himself and his family? OK, we’re not likely to see Christmas changed to the 25th of MichelleObama, but the impulse is the same – vanity and self-glorification, the very opposite of the humility and self-restraint required of a self-governing people.

Living persons are barred by law from being depicted on US currency – there was an attempt to put Washington’s image on the first US dollar, and he rightly declined it as an unseemly, un-republican act. The Postal Service used to have such a rule, requiring a person to be dead 10 years before they could be honored with a stamp, the only exception being former presidents, and even they are not so honored until one year after their death. Then, the time was reduced to five years, and just last fall, in a desperate attempt to raise money by selling stamps of celebrities, the Post Office announced it would make stamps of living persons. CBS News conducted an internet poll of which living American should be honored with a stamp. The winner?

Lady Gaga.

How far we’ve sunk.

And as we’re naming warships after living politicians – can a USS Nancy Pelosi be far behind? – we no longer have US Navy ships bearing some of the most important names of our history. There is no USS Lexington or USS Saratoga or USS Midway or USS Khe Sanh. Nor is there any US Navy vessel named for Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison,

James Monroe, or Andrew Jackson. Any one of the nearly 1,000 Marines and sailors who have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan is a more appropriate source of a ship’s name than any politician.

FP: Mark Krikorian, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.

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  • KarshiKhanabad

    I'll just bet that the USS Murtha has a serious graffiti problem.

  • Larry

    Bill Clinton should get a comfort ship, a floating holiday resort with casinos, swimming pools, brothels to service troops in the ME. Now that would be an appropriate naming.

  • tagalog

    Lady Gaga on a stamp? Bring back the stamps with mallards on them!

    • guest

      Thank goodness you don't have to lick them anymore.

      • aspacia

        Stamps, oh, right, I remember.

  • maturin20

    I think it's funny that no matter where you go, Alex Jones, David Horowitz, David Icke, David Duke, Davey D, they all hate Lady Gaga with an Iranian passion.

  • Otis

    "Lady Gaga" on a warship? OMG what is our society becoming? She's no warrior.

    I want to puke, vomit, and turn green at the thought of a "Nancy Pelosi" warship.

    • "gunner"

      could we name a garbage scow after pelosi?

    • Juggalicious

      It was actually Lady GaGa on a stamp, but still equal level of disgust.

  • flyingtiger

    There used to be a standard for naming ships. Submarines were named after fish, destroyers named after people (usually military heros), cruisers named after cities, battleships after states, and aircraft carriers named after battles or old ships (Enterprise, Hornet, Essex, ect) We need to back to that standard.
    If a ship is named after a person they should be dead or have some connection to the navy. There was a campaign to have a cruiser named after Robert A. Heinlein. He was an annapolis grad and served on an aircraft carrier. His books encourage patriotism. I would have no problem with his name. (The ship will be named instead by a navyman who was awarded a CMOH. Good Choice!)
    Even Quintin McHale is better choice than any of the names mentioned.

    • RonL

      We named Capital ships after states. There are no more battleships (although if we ever do build modified 15,000 tonne Zumwalt class "destroyers" with rail guns, this will be a matter of classification). Our current capital ships are Ohio Class nuclear submarines, which are named after states, and the supercarriers. We are now naming our new submarines after states, hence the Virginia Class SSGN. However, these are not capital ships.

      The old battle names are maintained on our Ticonderoga Class cruisers (although we are stupidly retiring these) and in our 40,000-50,000 ton marine carriers like the USS Essex, Wasp, etc. Our newest class of these will be the American class, the lead ship of which is currently under construction. These are not supercarriers, but are larger than the fleet carriers of Russia, India (under reconstruction), China (under construction), and Britain (under construction). These are larger than the French Charles De Gaule nuclear carrier.

    • johnnywoods

      I wonder if there might be any connection to the decline of our military and the naming of warships after people like Bill Clinton who was the most anti-military president ever ( now exceeded by al-Obama), or Gabby Gifford? Just sayin`. How about the USS Bozo, or USS Captain Kangaroo?

  • azjohnny

    most politicians have become renowned because of their spending of taxpayer money buying votes.

  • Amused

    What a bullsheeet article , and filled with bullsheeet responses . You guys here at FPM bring nit-picking to a fine art . Check out any international ships registry that includes the USN, Amesea ,Or MSTS and see how many US govt.owned ships are named after Presdidents , people etc .

  • Abisja

    As the cost of all US military hardware has to go on the "slate", so to speak, call the next carrier Obama. His back and his mouth is big enough to carry anything. And just think of it; the Musies won't missile it as it will be one of their's!

  • Flowerknife_us

    Pray that Obama does not send it to the Gulf so Iran can use it for target practice.

  • Amused

    two more total assssholes speak up .

    • johnnywoods

      You are free to leave "amused". We don`t need you here anyway.

  • dray

    it just a shame that america sends its scrap to china.neither republican or democrate is loyal to america just its money.thanks richard nixon(R)he has a great deal of responsibility in the demise of america.gerald ford(R) sold weapons to iran.ronald reagon(R) sold weapons to everybody including iran iraq isreal afganistan and half of south america.and george h w bush was in business with a saudi family named bin laden long before all of this happened .now the problem with obama and clinton and carter is that they were weak .but power seems to corrupt even the good strong republicans.thank you.dont let rome fall again.and ps i am not a crook