Pity

By lex, on April 8th, 2008

Unlike our British forebearers, we have a pitiful history of naming our warships in the US Navy. Here you’ll find no “Invincibles,” or “Broadswords.” We’re more in favor of naming our capital ships after politicians. The first ship of the Nimitz-class was named after a fleet admiral, the second – in a gesture of inter-service comity – was named after a five-star general, Dwight Eisenhower. Which gentleman, someone undoubtedly remembered, was also a president. After that, it was game on: Vinson and Truman, Lincoln and Roosevelt, Washington and Stennis, Reagan and Bush. Ford on the way.

In fact, the best named vessels in the active service are our minesweeps and patrol boats – too small and trivial to attract political regard.

To my mind at least, the best named vessels of the US Navy were the 44 foot Luder’s yawls ** at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. I have fond memories of walking the quay wall there and seeing one or another of these classically designed beauties toss at her mooring lines like high spirited mare in a cross-tie. I fell asleep on many a humid evening with the windows open, listening to the wind chime tinkling of shackles and turnbuckles playfully slapping at the mast and stays. Berthed there were boats with such names as Audacious and Courageous, Active and Lively and my favorite: Flirt.

For years, mids by the hundreds went to sea in the summer on one or another of the academy’s fleet of 44-foot sloops to spend a week or two in close quarters, dealing with whatever the ocean threw at them between here and New England. In Navy parlance, it’s called small-unit leadership training at sea and is regarded by many as a cornerstone of preparation for budding officers.

Two years ago, about 1,000 mids made the summer passage either from Newport, R.I., to Annapolis or the other way around after a week of training on one of the academy’s 21 blue 44-footers, said Cmdr. Jay Cavalieri, a former all-American dinghy sailor who now runs the school’s sailing program. This year, he expects only 120 or 130 will make the trip.

The offshore program and inshore basic sail training in smaller boats are victims of budget cuts, said Cavalieri, who has been struggling to keep them afloat on about one-tenth of the funds he’s used to having.

The racing programs won’t be affected, just the off- and on-shore summer cruising up and down the Atlantic Coast in a 44-foot boat with a dozen people whose actual lives depend upon the smart choices of those entrusted with the watch through the dark hours of the night. In lieu of time spent floating about on an Amphibious Transport Dock signing off PQS, maybe. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

It’s the right decision of course. Resources are limited.

Still: It’s a pity.

** 08-19-2018 Original link gone; replacement found – Ed.

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Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, by lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Lex, Navy, Uncategorized

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