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What kind of ship is the Bonhomme Richard?

The current* USS Bonhomme Richard is a Wasp-class Multipurpose Amphibious Assault Ship (or in the usual military parlance, “Amphibious Assault Ship, Multipurpose”, hull code LHD) USN Ship Designations Specifically USS Bonhomme Richard is LHD-6. There are 8 Wasp-class ships, LHD-1 through LHD-8, USS ,Wasp, Essex, Kearsarge, Boxer, Bataan, Bonhomme Richard, Iwo Jima, ,and, Makin Island,. They look like mini aircraft carriers, but unlike the larger Nimitz and Ford class “super carriers", Wasp and other class amphibious assualt ships do not have any catapults or arresting gear, so they can't launch or recover normal aircraft. You need specialized Vertical/Short Take Off and Landing (VSTOL) planes like F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, AV-8B Harrier II+ jump jets, MV-22B and CMV-22B Osprey tilt rotor planes, as well as regular helicopters (in USN and USMC service, that'd largely be AH-1W Super Cobra, AH-1Z Viper, UH-1Y Venom, and CH-53E Super Stallion, CH-53K King Stallion, and the MH-60R/S Seahawk). Anyways, Bonhomme Richard, and other Wasp class LHDs are 843 feet long, 104 foot beam, 27ft draft, and when fully loaded has a displacement of more than 41,000 Long Tons. Powered by 2 conventionally fueled GE gas turbine engines, they have a speed of 22 knots and a range of 9,500 nautical miles. In addition to the flight deck and its helicopters and jump jets, LHDs have a Well Deck that can hold several landing craft, including up to 3 LCAC (Landing Craft Air Cushioned) or 2 LCU (Landing Craft Utility) or 12 LCM (Landing Craft Mechanized). Up to 1,600 troops (usually a USMC Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) can be embarked. That is their true purpose, landing Marines on the shore using amphibious landing craft loading in the well deck with the flight deck serving as support for amphibious operations (whether by landing Marines via helicopters or launching AV-8s and F-35s and AH-1s for close air support of thise Marines). Although the F-35B offers enough capabilities that these amphib ships can be used as miniature strike carriers, adding more flexibility to naval operations. (Info courtesy of Wikipedia) A US Navy (USN) landing craft air cushion (LCAC) returns to the USN Wasp class Amphibious Assault Ship USS KEARSARGE (LHD 3) operating off the coast of Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, during Joint Task Force (JTF) Exercise 99-1 (JTFEX99-1) A US Navy (USN) landing craft air cushion (LCAC) returns to the USN Wasp class Amphibious Assault Ship USS KEARSARGE (LHD 3) operating off the coast of Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, during Joint Task Force (JTF) Exercise 99-1 (JTFEX99-1) - U.S. National Archives Public Domain Image *Edit to add, the US Navy has had 3 ships named the ,Bonhomme Richard,. The first was former French frigate, the ,Duc de Duras,, originally built 1765,, ,in USN service from February to September 1779 before being sunk by the HMS Serapis at the Battle of Flamborough Head. This is the ship commanded by John Paul Jones. Jones renamed her ,Bon Homme Richard, (usually rendered in more correct French as ,Bonhomme Richard,) in honor of ,Benjamin Franklin,, the American Commissioner at Paris whose ,Poor Richard's Almanac, was published in France under the title ,Les Maximes du Bonhomme Richard,. ,USS Bonhomme Richard (1765) - Wikipedia This was the battle where John Paul Jones defied British calls to surrender with his famous line “Sir, I have not yet begun to fight!” Jones eventually managed to lash the ships together, nullifying his opponent's greater maneuverability and allowing him to take advantage of the larger size and considerably more numerous crew of ,Bonhomme Richard,. An attempt by the Americans to board ,Serapis, was repulsed, as was an attempt by the British to board ,Bonhomme Richard,. Finally, after another of Jones's ships joined the fight, the British captain was forced to surrender at about 10:30 p.m. ,Bonhomme Richard, – shattered, on fire, leaking badly – defied all efforts to save her and sank about 36 hours later at 11:00 a.m. on 25 September 1779. Jones sailed the captured ,Serapis, to the ,Dutch United Provinces, for repairs. In honor of this famous battle and ship, the US Navy has kept the name Bonhomme Richard alive, using it to christen a Wampanoag class cruiser, though its construction was canceled in 1864. Essex class aircraft carriet CV-10 was originally named USS Bonhomme Richard before being renamed USS Yorktown (after the first USS Yorktown CV-5 was sunk at the Battle of Midway). Eventually Essex class carrier CV-31 was launched as USS Bonhomme Richard and served through WW2, Korea, and Vietnam. And finally the current Wasp-class amphibious assualt ship, LHD-6, heavily damaged in a recent fire, hopefully she'll be repaired and returned to the fleet.

What are the biggest differences between the U.S. Coast Guard cutter life and the U.S. Navy ship life?

Oh. Oh, boy. Well... The biggest difference is in the likelihood of encountering seasickness. Lemme show you some navy bubbas. USS BLUE RIDGE (LCC-19) USS BOXER (LHD-4) USS GERALD R FORD (CVN-78) so these are some of the biggest ships in the navy. These guys right here are massive. Enormous. And don't kick around too much in rough seas. They're pretty gentle rides. The crew is huge, and the mission is insulated from significant danger. You stand about a 30-40% chance in the fleet of getting sent to a vessel of these types. This... USCGC HAMILTON (WHEC-715) USCGC POLAR STAR (WAGB-10) USCGC WAESCHE (WMSL-751) is as big as the cutters get. They are smaller by far than the smallest navy warship (except for minesweepers). The crews are smaller, you're much more confined, and the thing tosses like you're getting thrown over a waterfall in a big metal barrel. So it's harder mentally and physically. Injuries are more frequent because the operational tempo tends to be much more extreme on these guys, I feel like I've talked about that before, and the operations are much more front-line danger with lots of opportunity for encounters of the decidedly hostile variety, which happens a lot more than you realize. This answer is featured in Burning Questions Episode 12 on YouTube. Link available in the comments.

What is the ideal number of aircraft carriers the United States Navy should maintain?

Fourteen. If you don’t include the LHAs and LHDs. This sounds unaffordable, and if the US stuck to its current policy of only running 100,000 ton nuclear behemoths it would be. Not only that, but the US can’t build supercarriers fast enough to reach fourteen in less than 60 years without new shipbuilding facilities. Because the supercarriers can only just maintain station 25% of the time, ,, to achieve three constantly-available carriers requires the current target of twelve in total, and even getting to that number is proving exceptionally difficult. The US currently has only ten operational, so how can fourteen be the right number? I think the US needs to run a mix of small, medium and large carriers. By small, I mean the emergency use of the America and Wasp class amphibious craft. The US has already been forced down this route when no supercarriers were available, employing USS Essex in the carrier strike role. USS Essex, LHD-2. Wasp-class LHDs have a fraction of the strike capacity of a supercarrier. At most they can operate about 12 strike aircraft, more normally that would be six. Although USS America, is about the same size as a Wasp, it has been modified to allow as many as 20 strike aircraft to operate if other functions such as helicopter operations are offloaded. That’s useful, but still not a direct replacement. At the other end of the scale lie the Nimitz-class supercarriers and their Ford-class successors. These can comfortably run 60 strike craft without sacrificing their ability to also host tanker aircraft for extended range, AEW and command and control aircraft such as the E-2D, electronic warfare specialised aircraft, and search and rescue helicopters. They function at a whole different level. USS Nimitz Unfortunately the cost of running supercarriers is at a whole different level too. Every time a Nimitz class carrier requires a mid-life refuel and overhaul, the prospect of spending billions to take the ship out of service for four years promotes calls for the ship’s early retirement. But the Wasps and Americas are simply not up to the job of replacing a supercarrier in any but the most trivial cases. As long as there’s no credible alternative, the Nimitz carriers can’t be retired early and the billions have to be spent. I would argue there ,is, an alternative, just not one the USN likes to think about: the medium sized carrier. The best current example of this is the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth class. HMS Queen Elizabeth. The USN will take one look at the 65,000 ton, 36-strike-plane HMS Queen Elizabeth, shake its collective head and say it’s no good for them. It’s just an oversized STOVL (short take-off) carrier, incapable of launching any of their current carrier-based planes. Without the ability to host the USN’s carrier wings, how is it any use? However, the Queen Elizabeth class can be built with catapults and arrestors. It can run as a STOVL, STOBAR, CATOBAR or hybrid class. Just because Britain has chosen to go STOVL doesn’t mean America needs to. A slightly heavier 70,000 ton CATOBAR arrangement would suit the USN far better. CATOBAR configuration of Queen Elizabeth class carriers. The second issue is that in a higher threat environment, half the multi-role fighters of a medium-sized carrier would need to be dedicated to defence, leaving a much reduced strike capability. So basing a carrier group around a CATOBAR QE class ship will not give anything like the same power punch as a Nimitz or a Ford. This is a valid issue, especially as HMS Queen Elizabeth’s fast sortie rate would be somewhat reduced when configured as a CATOBAR ship. This too is easily answered. QE class ships cost less than half of the Nimitz class to build and maybe a fifth of their cost to run. So for high threat environments the carrier group should contain two medium-sized carriers. With over seventy strike aircraft and twenty-five auxiliaries/helicopters, two QE class carriers match the USS Ford and possibly exceed it. The third issue is that they aren’t nuclear powered. The QE class houses less internal space for weapons and aircraft fuel. So a Nimitz will carry maybe four and a half times the quantity of jet fuel as a single QE. This means the conventionally powered carrier needs more fleet tankers and solid supply ships to be made available. Logistics become tougher. Building a nuclear powered medium-sized carrier would be a mistake. The cost advantages would disappear and two carriers would no longer save money. The extra auxiliaries are part of the cost of the operations, and still don’t increase costs to anything like that of a Nimitz-based group. While the flank speed of the Nimitz class is faster than that of a QE class, around 36 knots to QE’s 32 knots, that’s less to do with the nuclear power source and more to do with a Nimitz having twice the number of propellors. It also doesn’t materially affect operations. I add the comment as some believe that nuclear is somehow necessarily faster. They should watch the French nuclear carrier if they believe that. Another issue often brought up is robustness. A medium-sized carrier is inherently more likely to be damaged by a missile strike, and papers have cited vastly inflated costs associated with mitigating that risk. I believe this is a red herring. The level of redundancy of two Queen Elizabeth class carriers more than makes up for any increased propensity to take damage. A single hit to the arrestors or the catapult electrical system could render a Ford class carrier inoperable, whereas a lucky strike to a QE class carrier would leave at least 50% capacity in the form of other ship. Also, the ability of even one of the double-island QE carriers to weather a hit to the superstructure is greater than that of a Nimitz/Ford class. A major upside of medium-conventional is that they can be forward based more easily, increasing availabilty. While the US is fortunate to have such a base in Japan for one nuclear carrier group, no such facilities are available to the Second, Fifth or Sixth fleets. This means carriers destined for the North East Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf have to spend a considerable percentage of a six month deployment getting to and from their stations. This is a significant part of the reason for their sub-25% availability. A forward-based conventional carrier can achieve availability rates over 33%, so three ships can take the place of four. Forward basing has cost implications, but the increased availability more than makes up for that. Because we are doubling up numbers to maintain power projection, the US would need six forward-based medium conventional carriers to take the place of four nuclear supercarriers. ,And we finally get to my recommended number of fourteen: eight Ford/Nimitz nuclear carriers plus six conventional 70,000 tons carriers, to be forward based in the Mediterranean. The considerable cost savings are only one reason to go down this route. Another is flexibility. A carrier group can be centred on a single medium carrier for lower threat operations (as is more typically found in the Mediterranean), doubling the ability to provide lower level operations. Rather than three conflicts, the US could potentially cover four without surging, the two lower level being handled by separated medium carriers, especially if one or both is paired with a LHD/LHA. [Flexibility could be increased still further if three of the medium carriers are CATOBAR and three are hybrid (two catapults and one ramp each). A heterogeneous pairing would allow increased interoperability with the USMC and wings of F-35Bs on the hybrid could mix with F-35C and F/A-18s on the CATOBAR. This would have to be wargamed to see if the different options would be worth it. I would have thought not, except that mixing up capabilities is seen doctrinally as a “good thing” — it keeps an enemy guessing at to the capabilities it might be facing.] A final advantage is that only one place in the US can construct Nimitz/Ford class carriers, the Huntington Ingalls shipyard in Norfolk News. This isn’t true of medium-sized conventional carriers, which can be built in parallel to the Ford class at other sites. Replacing some of the Nimitz class carriers with conventional ones on a two for one basis would allow the target capability to be reached faster than with twelve supercarriers. If half were built in Newport News and half in Mississippi (where HI build the LHAs) this would allow solid continuity of skills in both locations and stronger skills transfer between the two sites.

Albeit on a smaller scale are the Wasp Class (LHD) and America Class (LHA) ships of the United States Navy able to serve the purposes of a political tool and power projection like the Nimitz and Ford class carriers?

They can project power and political influence. That influence and power is different than what the supercarrier brings. A supercarrier brings: More air power than most nations possess. The ability to conduct air strikes far inland, not just the coastlines. The capability to make air strikes in minutes instead of days. Enough bombs to pound targets for days before having to replenish stores. An amphibious carrier brings: The ability to put boots on the ground immediately. Defensive air power to cover those Marines as they seize a port and establish a beach head. These abilities may seem similar but they are not. They compliment each other. Together they are an invasion force.

If Australia wanted to build aircraft carriers, would the US help by sharing technology such as nuclear propulsion and catapults?

Absolutely. The US would be ,thrilled, if Australia wanted to build carriers and Australia already has access to basically the entire portfolio of US defense technologies (and vice versa) Operating Supercarriers like the ,Nimitz, or ,Ford, classes would be too taxing for Australia. They are stupidly expensive, both in capital costs and manpower. A single Nimitz in surge conditions can carry almost the entire Royal Australian Air Force! However, Australia can (and does!) operate smaller “carriers” known as the ,Canberra, class LHD (Landing helicopter Dock). These are more akin to the ,America, and ,Wasp, class Assault Ships used by the US Marines, than they are a true fixed wing aircraft carrier. Its designed to carry mostly helicopters and landing craft for amphibious assaults. However, you may have noticed a ski jump up there in the front. That only takes space away from helicopter operations, why would they design it that way? It makes no sense! Unless…. Australia is already buying about 100 stealthy F-35A’s and has been a partner in the JSF program since the beginning. Converting some of those orders to the STOVL F-35B model so the Canberras can sport 5th generation supersonic fighter operations would make a ton of sense in my opinion. That said, even if Australia doesn’t go that route, UK and US F-35B’s will still be able to operate on the decks of the ,Canberra, class, and generally speaking, these countries don’t go to war without each other very often

Would people from the UK be annoyed when others say that they drive on the wrong side of the road?

No, just bored. It’s a bit like being told the same unfunny joke over and over and over…. Especially if the comment happens comes from someone who is woefully uninformed about the realities of the rest of the world. ‘,You drive on the wrong side of the road and can’t spell,’ being a drone that sometimes emanates from a nation of 328 million-odd, some of whom don’t seem to know any better about the realities of Planet Earth. See, here’s the thing: 1/3 of the world’s population drives on exactly the same side as the UK. These are nations where they have ,always ,driven (or more accurately, ridden ~as in horseback) on the left. It’s the natural side to ride & later, to drive on. (In days gone by, what side would someone mount a horse? From the clean edge of the road, or the mud-strewn middle? The nations that swapped side did so at various points in their histories for a wide range of reasons. Most reasons were logical & sensible. Some were imposed. Such as: The Swedes changing sides in the 1960’s to reflect the fact that ,all, their neighbours drove on the right & ,most, of their car’s were LHD imports. Italy did so to end the madness of a mix of driving sides, depending on what town you were in and whether or not you were in the countryside! Others had no choice. (Napoleon got the blame for this!). Others were deranged. (Such as the then leader of Burma, ~now Myanmar, who dictated a change from left side to right driving in the ‘60’s because his wife’s astrologer told him to…). As for the USA., it was Henry Ford. He only offered the Model T in LHD. Prior to that, US cars had a weird mix of driving sides. An early ‘Brass era’ US built & marketed car. Note driving side… Driving on the left is the ‘natural’ side to drive. Studies have shown an advantage (admittedly minimal) to driving on the left in RHD cars. The UK has ,never ,changed driving/riding sides. But, ,none of this matters. ,As long as the people are okay with the side they drive on, no problem. …& please, try to remember that it’s not just the British who drive on the left. And whilst we’re at it, here’s another thing: The spelling moan I mentioned. It does not matter how a nation decided to spell color/colour, etc., etc. But please stop with the ‘,why don’t you change to color?’ ,It’s as boring as the wrong-side driving moan, so give it a rest! Why? Because the, entire English speaking world ,spells it as ‘colour’ along with all the other words a well-intentioned, but misguided lexicographer tried to change ,waaay, back in 1820.

V12 engines have been proven to work well in high performance supercars. What reasons are there preventing a V14 to be made?

The V12 is actually a “budget engineering project”,. One of the most common, older models is the Jaguar V-12, from the famous XKE. It was made almost entirely from parts from Jag’s 6-cylinder engines. 1973 Jaguar E-Type Series III V12 Roadster (LHD) – For sale in London Later on, both BMW and Mercedes offered sports cars and sedans with V-12 engines. ,What all of these manufacturers had in common was a production straight-six engine,. And, as several others have pointed out, most V-12 engines are actually just a pair of straight 6 engines sharing a common crank. Mercedes SL65 fender To indicate how close a V-12 is to a pair of 6-cylinder engines, BMW used to boast in the advertising for their V-12 sedan (was that the 760iL ?) that it offered increased reliability because “even if the engine computer failed for one half of the engine, it would continue to operate on the other half” or something like that. BMW V-12 engine Their V-12 actually had 2 engine computers (timing and fuel injection systems) meaning that, each computer “saw” and controlled a straight 6,. Shared parts, shared electronics, and “re-cycling” proven designs. V-12s are a “no-brainer” if you have a straight 6. (similarly, Ford pretty much jumped from a straight 4 to the V8 in 1932, probably using a similar approach to design re-use). 32 Ford 3-window Coupe with flat-head V-8 engine But to easily develop a V-14, you’d have to have a proven ,straight seven cylinder engine, lying around. Anyone seen one of those? ….. (crickets)

Can I convert my Ford Mustang from LHD to RHD?

Sure you can, technically. But the conversion would in all likelihood far exceed the value of the Mustang.

Does the US Navy have 10 or 19 aircraft carriers?

They have 10 deployable CVN’s USS Nimitz (CVN 68) USS Dwight D Eisenhower (CVN 69) USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) USS George Washington (CVN 73) USS John C Stennis (CVN 74) USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75) USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) USS George H W Bush (CVN 77) One non deployable CVN USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) 11 total hulls classified as aircraft carriers. In addition, there are 9 amphibious assault ships that can carry jet aircraft and are in the same size as most other countries’ aircraft carriers. USS America (LHA 6) USS Wasp (LHD 1) USS Essex (LHD 2) USS Kearsage (LHD 3) USS Boxer (LHD 4) USS Bataan (LHD 5) USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) USS Malkin Island (LHD 8) When compared to aircraft carriers of other countries, the US has 19 active hulls (and 1 not yet ready for prime time) that have a flight deck and the ability to launch airplanes. The USN only acknowledges 11 of them as aircraft carriers. The answer to your question is Both.

Is it time to break the tradition of naming aircraft carriers after presidents?

Yes. I despise the fact the pride of the US Navy since WW2, the aircraft carrier, has devolved into a naming popularity contest for politicians. Carriers have traditionally borne the names of significant battles and places from the Revolution and in American history. Battleships were named for states. Cruisers named for cities. Destroyers for significant persons and Naval heroes. Over the years those lines have blurred and modern cruisers have taken on the historical naming that carriers had and freed up space to become the abomination it has been after the launch of USS ,Nimitz,. At least the Nimitz was named for a naval hero. And he was dead. One of the other traditions modern US carrier naming has broken. We should never name ships for living people. USS ,Enterprise, has a long tradition in US Navy service going back the original Enterprise in the American Revolution. There should always be an ,Enterprise, in commission in the US fleet. We need to go back to naming our carriers as we did into and after WW2 before the nuclear ships. We need another Lexington, Saratoga, Kitty Hawk, Ranger, Bon Homme Richard, Oriskany, Yorktown, Hornet, Independence, Midway, Constellation or Intrepid. All proud names in American history and in our carriers. I do not want to ever see a USS ,Donald J. Trump, or USS ,Barack Obama,. Or any other president past or future. John F. Kennedy I give a pass to but that is it. I am hoping the US Navy will listen and go back its roots with the Ford-class ships going forward and have only the USS ,Gerald R. Ford,, the USS ,John F. Kennedy, and the USS ,Doris Miller, to be the only carriers named for people. I would love to see the follow-on ships go back to historical patterns. If it was up to me, these would be the names of the ,Ford,-class carriers: CVN-78 - USS ,Gerald R. Ford CVN-79 - USS ,John F. Kennedy CVN-80 - USS ,Enterprise CVN-81 - USS ,Doris Miller CVN-82 - USS ,Lexington CVN-83 - USS ,Saratoga, (USS ,Bon Homme Richard is an in-commission LHD) CVN-84 - USS ,Yorktown CVN-85 - USS ,Oriskany CVN-86 - USS ,Hornet CVN-87 - USS ,Midway As far as I am concerned there should always be a USS ,Lexington, and a USS ,Yorktown, in commission. These are names that go back centuries and deserve places of honor in US Navy history. The others are from the Revolution and only the USS ,Midway, has a modern lineage and for good reason. No other battle defines “aircraft carrier” for the US Navy than the Battle of Midway and that name deserves to be alongside the Lexington, Yorktown and Enterprise.


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