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Delivered November 19, 1863 At the dedication of Gettysburg National Cemetery

returned to Holy Loch in 1967, and in 1972 she transited the Panama Canal for reassignment to the Pacific Fleet and a second overhaul. After the overhaul the submarine transited the Panama Canal in June 1974 for tests and local operations at Cape Kennedy, Fla., and Charleston, S.C. A month later the ship retransited the canal and sailed for her new homeport, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In the fall of 1974 Lincoln arrived at her advanced base at Guam, where she conducted deterrent patrols and tests of her missile systems and participated in numerous exercises for four years. In 1977 Lincoln became the first ballistic missile submarine to conduct 50 strategic deterrent patrols. In October 1979 Lincoln completed her last patrol, and the submarine was decommissioned on February 28, 1981.

Images of Lincoln

Gettysburg Address


our score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate - we can not consecrate - we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

be a top quality car, and it was going to be named after the “Great Emancipator.� In the maritime area, three canal boats (Rail Splitter, Old Abe and A. Lincoln) plied the waters of the Illinois and Michigan Canal in the early 1860s as their namesake rose in national prominence. The U.S. Navy has had one previous ship named after the president. It was Abraham Lincoln (SSBN 602), a George Washington-class ballistic missile submarine, which was christened by Miss Mary Lincoln Beckwith, Lincoln’s great granddaughter, on May 14, 1960, at the Portsmouth (N.H.) Naval Shipyard. The submarine was commissioned on March 11, 1961. For four years Lincoln performed deterrent patrols while based at Holy Loch, Scotland, including a 65-day patrol during the October 1962 Cuban crisis when she had to leave a four-week upkeep period on short notice. After an overhaul in the States, Lincoln

Images of Lincoln


braham Lincoln’s name and image live on in a variety of forms. There are 29 communities, 23 counties and 36 townships in the U.S. named Lincoln, not counting places like Lincoln City, Lincolnville, Lincolnton, Lincoln Village, Lincoln Park, etc. Countless companies, streets, highways, trails, parks, schools and universities have been named after the 16th president. The “Lincoln head” penny was first minted in 1909 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. The 150th anniversary was noted in 1959 when the “wheat ears” on the reverse side of the original coin were replaced by the image of the Lincoln Memorial. The Lincoln penny is the first U.S. coin to bear the likeness of a recognizable person and the first to bear the portrait of a U.S. president. Lincoln’s picture has appeared on several pieces of printed U.S. currency. From 1861 to 1876 it was on a bill for 50 cents, one of six denominations of “fractional” currency. His picture also appeared on some of the $10, $20, $100 and $500 currency in the 1800s and early 1900s. A $1 bill featuring the pictures of Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant was printed in 1899. Today’s Lincoln $5 bill started as a larger size in 1914, but was made smaller to

its current size in 1928. More than two dozen U.S. postage stamps, envelopes and post cards have borne Lincoln’s image since the 1860s. Lincoln’s picture appeared on the Series E $1,000 U.S. Savings Bond from 1941 to 1980 and on the Series HH $1,000 bond in 1980 - 82. The Lincoln name lives in the popular opera “Madame Butterfly.” Puccini’s character Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton is a lieutenant serving aboard the ship “Abraham Lincoln.”


he Lincoln automobile derives its name from the president. Henry M. Leland and his son, Wilfred, formed the Lincoln Motor Company in 1917 to build aircraft engines. When the World War I contracts ended in 1919, they turned to motorcar manufacturing. The Lelands introduced their first Lincoln auto in 1920, and in 1922 Ford Motor Company bought the young auto firm. Henry Leland was an enthusiastic admirer of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was the first president Leland was old enough to vote for, and Leland’s office was full of Lincoln pictures. A statue of Lincoln stood outside the Leland plant, and was later moved to the Detroit Public Library. When friends once suggested to the Lelands that they name their car the “Leland,” Henry was adamant. His automobile was going to

Lincoln’s Navy by John Y. Simon


hen Abraham Lincoln took office as president on March 4, 1861, the new commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy had probably never boarded an ocean-going vessel. He joked about his three months of military service and had no administrative experience. As senior partner in a two-man law firm, he took half the cash paid by clients and put it in an envelope for his partner, used his hat as a briefcase, kept an office so dirty that seeds once sprouted in the corner, and labeled a large envelope “when you can’t find it anywhere else, look into this.” Inexperience led to greatness during the Civil War, when as Lincoln wrote, “The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion.” Lincoln’s versatility emerged early. In the spring of 1831, a flatboat with a crew of four got stuck on the mill dam across the Sangamon River at New Salem, Ill. Spectators crowded the bank while a tall, rawboned youth directed the other crewmen to move enough cargo from the sagging stern to the bow to tilt the stern upright. They were to drill a hole in the bottom to let the water out, plug the hole, unload some cargo, then ease the lightened boat over the dam. Townspeople admired the skillful engineering of 22-year-old Lincoln, and flatboat owner Danton Offutt liked the town well enough to return to buy the mill, open a store and hire young

Lincoln as a clerk. A chance encounter with a dam started Lincoln’s career. Abe was born in Kentucky in a simple cabin his father, Thomas, had built. Although a carpenter, Thomas Lincoln made his living chiefly through farming, and difficulty with land titles in Kentucky, induced him to move to governmentsurveyed Spencer County, Ind., when his son was seven. The boy grew up in a sparsely settled region where he remembers “pretty pinching times,” his mother’s early death and little opportunity for schooling.


rowing up toiling on an unproductive pioneer farm, hardly recalling a time when he did not hold an axe in his hands, he developed a splendid physique that made him a wrestling champion. While working as a hired hand, he once told a neighbor that “his father taught him to work but never learned him to love it.” What he loved was education, and he read anything he could find. A cousin remembered him as “always reading, scribbling, writing, ciphering, writing poetry.” Abe still did not know how to realize his ambition of working

Stuart, a social and political leader who had taken a fancy to the young legislator. Five years later Lincoln married Stuart’s Kentucky cousin, Mary Todd. In Springfield, Lincoln prospered in both law and politics. Election to Congress in 1846 gave him leadership among the Illinois Whigs that carried over to the new Republican Party in the mid-1850s. Lincoln never lost interest in the mechanical devices that had fascinated him as a youth. He eagerly examined any new machine, never satisfied until he understood how it worked. In an age of tinkerers, he became a leading patent attorney and even an inventor, patenting a cumbersome device to lift vessels over shoals. In 1854, Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois engineered the Kansas-Nebraska Act, extending slavery into new territory and jolting Lincoln back into politics. Douglas, a national celebrity, master politician and able speaker, so dominated Illinois that Republicans nominated Lincoln to oppose him for reelection in 1858, the

Lincoln’s Navy

with his head instead of his hands. At age 19 he worked on a flatboat, floating down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to bustling New Orleans, an exhilarating experience for a backwoods boy who had never visited a town larger than Rockport, Ind. The steamboat that carried him upriver fascinated him, and though not yet old enough to leave his family, he hoped to become “a steamboat man.” After the Lincolns moved to Illinois, Offutt launched another flatboat that carried Abe to New Salem, Ill. There the young clerk continued his self-education, eventually focusing on the law, perhaps as a pathway into the world of politics. Admired by neighbors after winning a wrestling match with the local champion, he announced his candidacy for the legislature in 1832, pledging to work for improvement in the navigation of the Sangamon. Service in the Black Hawk War, however, deprived him of time to campaign throughout the county, which cost him the election - the only election he ever lost by popular vote. Even so, he received 277 of 300 votes in his own precinct, a gratifying sign of confidence from those who knew him. Better known in Sangamon County two years later, he received twice as many votes and won election to the first of four consecutive terms. He left for the state capital at Vandalia after borrowing $200 for expenses and buying his first respectable suit. Legislators received $3 pay for each day the legislature met, not even enough to support a bachelor, and as Lincoln’s fortunes in the Whig Party rose, his personal finances plummeted. Partner in a store that “winked out” because New Salem had competing stores, few customers and a poor location, Lincoln found himself in debt and unemployed. A variety of odd jobs, including surveying, kept him solvent until he finished his study of law. In 1837 he moved upstream to Springfield, now the state capital (partly through his efforts), where he became the law partner of John Todd

only candidate capable of standing up to him. Their celebrated debates brought Lincoln national attention. Although the Illinois legislature sent Douglas back to the Senate, two years later voters sent Lincoln to the White House.


then did they receive permission to evacuate the garrison. After Sumter fell, Lincoln proclaimed a blockade of some 3,500 miles of Southern coast when he had only three ships ready to enforce it. Like their Confederate counterparts, Lincoln and Welles had to create a Navy. In some respects, naval unpreparedness proved beneficial. A strong peacetime fleet might have provided ships to the Confederates when seizing shipyards and ports, and ships built before the war quickly became obsolete. The Navy needed both deepwater blockade vessels and a flotilla to operate on the great rivers, highways into the South, now the scene of unanticipated warfare.


n improvised fleet contributed to early Union victories at Fort Henry on the Tennessee River, Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River and Memphis and Vicksburg on the Mississippi River. The Union deployed converted steamboats, hastily built ironclad gunboats and even mortars on flatboats to gain control of vital rivers. Northern inventiveness was backed by industrial capacity the South could not match. Against incredible odds, however, Confederates eventually managed to acquire more than 130 ships, including more than 30 armored warships.

Lincoln’s Navy

lected to halt the spread of slavery, Lincoln instead faced the unprecedented challenges of Civil War, including the need for naval power. He appointed Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles, a former Democrat from Connecticut, who once served (1846-49) as chief of the Navy’s Bureau of Clothing and Provisions, more to balance the cabinet politically than to provide expertise. Assistant Secretary Gustavus V. Fox, however, had entered the Navy as a midshipman and served for 18 years before resigning five years before the Civil War. Calling him a “live man,” Lincoln insisted on Fox’s appointment despite Welles’ opposition. Because the American people had been unwilling to build a strong fleet, the Navy was unprepared for conflict. A dislike of military professionalism dating from colonial days had been strengthened by the victory of an American volunteer Army and improvised Navy in the American Revolution. The size and remoteness of the United States, not its Army and Navy, provided its security. “All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined,” young Lincoln had proclaimed, “could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. As a nation of freemen,” he continued, “we must live through all time, or die by suicide.” A generation later, these words proved prophetic as seven states left the Union even before Lincoln’s inauguration, and the outbreak of war brought four more into the Confederate nation. Prophesying further, he said that “if all do not join now to save the good old ship of the Union... nobody will have a chance to pilot her on another voyage.” War began with naval humiliation without prospect of recovery. Fort Sumter, designed to protect Charleston, S.C., from naval attack, was vulnerable to shore batteries. Unable to land supplies, U.S. Navy ships stood helplessly offshore while Sumter was battered into submission, only

Lincoln’s Navy

Heavily outgunned, they developed mines (then called torpedoes) for river defense and built small “torpedo boats,” low-profile craft with a mine suspended from a long pole on the bow. Confederates created the world’s first combat submarine, the ill-fated Hunley, that lost several crews in testing and another while sinking a Union ship. Confederate cruisers built abroad preyed on Yankee shipping, and the famed Alabama took more than 60 merchant vessels before its fatal encounter with USS Kearsarge off the coast of France in 1864. The rebuilt Merrimack was rechristened Virginia and armored with four-inch-thick iron plates and a cast iron prow weighing 1,500 pounds. She emerged from Norfolk in March, 1862, looking like “a huge half-submerged crocodile,” and destroyed two U.S. ships while shells glanced harmlessly off her plates. Panic dominated Washington, where the cabinet pondered the nightmare that this invincible vessel might bombard the capital, then sail northward closing every port. On her next foray, however, Virginia encountered Monitor, a minuscule Union ironclad designed by John Ericsson, a Swedish-born engineer who had presented his design to Lincoln before approaching the Navy. Against 12 guns on Virginia, Monitor carried only two, but its revolving turret allowed their constant use. Lighter and with superior engines, Monitor could also avoid ramming. After a three-hour battle Virginia was driven back to port, then blockaded by heavy ships assigned as rams and the watchful Monitor.


y war’s end, the number of naval vessels had increased from 90 to 670, personnel from 8,800 to 58,200 and annual expenditures tenfold. What began as a blockade in name only gained effectiveness during the winter of 186162 after joint Army-Navy operations seized vital bases on the coasts of South and North Carolina. Sleek and speedy blockade runners evaded the U.S. Navy an estimated 90 percent of the time in 1861, but only 50 percent in 1865. The blockade, combined with Union control of the Mississippi River achieved in 1863, gradually strangled the Confederacy.

When Lincoln died, the United States possessed the strongest Navy in the world, perhaps an inevitable consequence of the great struggle. That it was also the most modern Navy owed something to Lincoln, the prairie lawyer fascinated by discoveries and inventions, who bypassed Secretary Welles to consult Captain Dahlgren or Assistant Secretary Fox, men who knew far more about naval technology. By keeping the White House door open, he met and assisted inventors with sound ideas, and his example encouraged innovation throughout the Navy. Initially suspicious of a president who poked into every aspect of naval affairs, officers learned to respect Lincoln. “No man,” concluded Dahlgren, “was so well fitted to carry the country through her trial.” Written by John Y. Simon (1933-2008). An award-winning Civil War scholar with special interests in Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant, Simon received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Swarthmore College in 1955, a master’s degree in 1956 and a Ph.D. in 1961 from Harvard University and a Doctor of Humane Letters from Lincoln College in 1983. For 44 years, Simon was part of the history faculty of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, teaching courses on the Civil War, Reconstruction and the history of Illinois. In 2004, Simon was awarded the Lincoln Prize for his Grant papers project. Simon has also wrote or edited a number of books dealing with Lincoln, Grant and the Civil War and dozens of journal articles on subjects of wide variance in 19th-century American history.

Humanitium Response

Humanitium Response

A Penny Saved


onsider the Lincoln Penny. Some people may think it doesn’t go far these days, but not Sailors aboard the Abraham Lincoln. Sailors aboard the Lincoln have adapted the nation’s copper coin for their ship’s seal. They also glue pennies to their name tags as a unique way of distinguishing Abraham Lincoln Sailors from other Sailors around the fleet. The ship’s seal uses copper coloring and superimposes the famous silhouette of Lincoln found on the penny over the bow of the carrier. Wheat stalks flank the silhouette to the left and right. The seal was created by Ezra L. Bettis, a machinist’s mate 1st class, whose idea was inspired by the style of the old penny, sometimes called the “wheat penny.” “I was sitting at home trying to come up with an idea, and I must have had one of those old wheat pennies in my hand,” he says. Bettis decided to enter the ship’s contest to design the seal, but coming up with the final design was no easy task. “I was working on the seal, and I just gave up on it, because I couldn’t get it to look the way I wanted. I didn’t think I would win the $100 savings bond anyway.” “But my wife, Terri, told me to keep working on it, and the next night, it just came together.” The idea for the seal came to Bettis almost as surprisingly as the news he had won the contest. “The ship was over at the dry-dock pier, and I went over to the precommissioning building

to visit the personnel office,” he says. “When I was passing the ship’s temporary store, I saw my seal idea on a T-shirt. I asked the guy behind the counter if that was the ship’s seal. He said it was, and I kept saying, ‘That’s my idea!’” “A couple of days later, the captain called me at the shop and told me I had won.” New crewmembers are given a name tag with a 1972 Lincoln Penny glued on it when they report to the ship. The coin is both a symbol of the ship and the crew. The year 1972 was an obvious choice, since the ship’s hull number is 72. “We didn’t have the money to buy a ship’s emblem to put on the name tags in the beginning, and we were looking around for something we could afford,” says Master Chief Robert Wellcome, who reported aboard as the ship’s first crewmember on January 20, 1987. “One day I was looking at a penny and said hey, why not? I put a penny on a blank name tag, and it looked pretty good. My wife called the Treasury Department, and they told us it was legal as long as we did not deface the coin. It has snowballed from there.” Where does one find enough 1972 pennies for an aircraft carrier with some 3,000 crewmembers aboard? Sounds like a tough task, but not for the students at Dunbar-Erwin Middle School of Newport News, Va., a member of the Navy’s Adopt-A-School program. The students at the school donated more than 3,200 of the 1972 pennies. “Each class’ goal was 100 pennies,” says Flora L. Fulton, the Dunbar-Erwin project coordinator. “But one particular class, an eighth grade class, collected more than 500 pennies. Most of the classes beat the 100-penny goal.” The penny drive was a successful effort on the part of the Abraham Lincoln crew and the Dunbar-Erwin students and staff, bringing together a ship and the city in which she was born. The drive was so successful in fact, the original donation of pennies is still being used today to provide specialized Lincoln name tags for the crew.

HSM- “Saberhawks”

HS- “Golden Falcons”


over the city of Mogadishu in support of Operation Restore Hope. In April 1995, Lincoln deployed again to the Arabian Gulf to support Operation Southern Watch and Vigilant Sentinel. Upon its return, Abe left Alameda, Calif., for Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Wash., where the ship underwent a one-year comprehensive overhaul. The ship then moved to its current homeport of Everett, Wash., Jan. 8, 1997. In June 1998, Lincoln began its fourth deployment in support of Operation Southern Watch. Port visits included Perth and Hobart in Australia. After a short break, the ship participated in Fleet Week ’99 in San Francisco, visited Santa Barbara, Calif., and Victoria, British Columbia, before participating in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise 2000, a multinational exercise conducted off the Hawaiian Islands. In August 2000, the ship departed with

The Ship

SS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) is America’s fifth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. The ship was named in honor of our nation’s 16th president and is the second ship in the U.S. Navy to bear his name. Abraham Lincoln’s keel was laid Nov. 3, 1984 at Newport News, Va. The ship was christened less than four years later and commissioned Nov. 11, 1989 in Norfolk, Va. After shakedown and acceptance trials, the ship departed Norfolk in September 1990 and transited around South America before arriving in Alameda, Calif. Lincoln’s May 1991 deployment was in response to Iraq’s annexation of Kuwait, but Abe was diverted instead to support evacuation operations following the eruption of Mount Pinatubo on Luzon Island, Republic of the Philippines. Operation Fiery Vigil became the largest recorded peacetime evacuation of active duty military personnel and family members. Lincoln led a 23-ship armada that moved nearly 45,000 people from Subic Bay Naval Station to the Visayas Province port of Cebu. The ship eventually arrived in the Arabian Gulf where Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11, the embarked air wing, provided combat air patrol, reconnaissance and support for air operations over Kuwait and Iraq in Operation Desert Storm for three months. In June 1993, Lincoln deployed to the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch, the U.N.-sanctioned enforcement of a “no fly zone” over Southern Iraq. In October 1993, Lincoln was ordered to the coast of Somalia to assist U.N. humanitarian operations. The air wing spent a month flying patrols

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14 on its fifth deployment to the Arabian Gulf. Lincoln spent more than 100 days on station in support of Operation Southern Watch and maritime interdiction operations. For its performance the battle group earned the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation. In July 2002, Lincoln deployed to familiar waters albeit an unfamiliar world after the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Abe assumed duties in the Arabian Gulf in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Southern Watch. The ship’s deployment was then extended to further support Operation Southern Watch and Iraqi Freedom as U.S. forces occupied Iraq. The marathon deployment ended May 2003 with a historic visit by President George W. Bush, congratulating the ship for its mission accomplishment.


The Ship

ollowing renovations and repairs in Bremerton, Wash., Lincoln visited Victoria, British Columbia during an abbreviated inter-deployment workup cycle. Abe then became the first U.S. aircraft carrier to “surge” in recent memory, leaving with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 October 2004 for a seventh deployment, eight months ahead of schedule. When a devastating tsunami struck Southeast Asia in December, the ship was diverted to Operation Unified Assistance, delivering much-needed supplies and aid and saving potentially thousands of lives. Lincoln remained in the Western Pacific Ocean, visiting Hong Kong and Singapore before returning home March 2005.

VAQ- “Lancers”

Lincoln deployed February 2006 with CVW-2 to the Western Pacific to conduct training and exercises, including RIMPAC 2006, which demonstrated joint operability with allied and partner navies and ensured freedom of navigation in the area. Lincoln also participated in a Passing Exercise (PASSEX) with the Japanese navy and Exercise Foal Eagle with the Republic of Korea navy, and was one of three U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups to participate in Exercise Valiant Shield. Lincoln’s crew enjoyed liberty in the ports of Hong Kong, China; Singapore, and Sasebo, Japan. Abe was the first U.S. aircraft carrier to moor pier side in Laemb Chabang, Thailand. After two visits to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Lincoln delivered the majority of CVW-2’s squadrons to San Diego Aug. 4, and the ship returned to Everett, Wash., Aug. 8, 2006. The ship then entered Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Wash., for rehabilitation in the dry dock. The nine-month shipyard period included

VFA- “Vigilantes”

several alterations, upgrades and installments throughout the ship. Upon completion, the Lincoln headed back to sea to begin certification and training for its next deployment, which began late 2007. The Lincoln spent the next seven months supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, as well as maritime security and coalition operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility (AOR).


The Ship

VW-2 was once again embarked on board the Lincoln and was essential to mission success. The air wing flew more than 7,000 sorties – including 2,307 combat sorties – and dropped in excess of 255,000 pounds of ordnance. Upon successfully completing its mission of supporting troops on the ground, the Lincoln sailed to the U.S. 7th Fleet AOR and participated in 16 community relations projects, contributing more than 2,000 volunteer-hours to communities in Singapore and Thailand. The Lincoln and its crew returned home to Everett, Wash., October 2008. After conducting multiple sustainment exercises, the Lincoln once again returned to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard to begin a ninemonth Planned Incremental Availability (PIA). Items completed during this shipyard period included a complete modification of hangar bay one, replacement of all four of the ship’s propellers, a modernization of the flight deck and a comprehensive upgrade to the ship’s computer systems. The hard work of the Lincoln crew resulted in an early completion of PIA in January 2010, after which the ship returned to Everett. Shortly after returning home Lincoln Sailors and CVW-2 once again began the process of training and certification in order to prepare for a 2010 deployment in support of the nation’s maritime strategy. The men and women of this aircraft carrier know they shoulder a tremendous amount of responsibility – that of an entire nation. There is, collectively, no one better to carry out our naval heritage, tradition and mission than those assigned to this mighty warship.

The Mission


ur nation’s economy and security depend upon our ability to protect our overseas interests while encouraging peace and stability around the globe. Forward presence by U.S. Navy aircraft carrier strike groups helps the United States accomplish this mission. As former Secretary of Defense William Cohen stated: “If you don’t have that forward deployed presence, you have less of a voice, less of an influence.” The U.S. Navy is engaged, and engaged means being there. The carrier strike group, operating in international waters, does not need the permission of host countries for landing or over-flight rights. Nor does it need to build or maintain bases in countries where our presence may cause political or other strains. Aircraft carriers are sovereign U.S. territory that steam anywhere in international waters. This characteristic is not lost on our political decision-makers, who use Navy aircraft carriers as a powerful instrument of diplomacy, strengthening alliances or answering the fire bell of crisis. The carrier strike group not only operates independently, but also presents a unique range of options to the President, Congress and the Secretary of Defense. By using the oceans -- more than 70 percent of the earth’s surface is ocean -- both as a means of access and as a base, forward-deployed naval forces are readily available to provide the United States with a wide range of national response capabilities. These capabilities range from simply showing the flag -- just a presence -- to the insertion of power ashore. The unique contribution of aircraft carriers to our national security was best expressed by General John Shalikashvili, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said, “I know how relieved I am each time when I turn to my operations officer and say, ‘Hey, where’s the nearest carrier?’ and he says to me ‘It’s right there on the spot.’ For United States’ interests, that means everything.”

VFA- “Blue Blasters”

VRC- “Providers”

The Mission

Carrier Air Wing 

VAW- “Sun Kings”

VFA- “Kestrels”

Carrier Air Wing Two

Welcome Aboard Layout