USS Reagan Officially Enters Service, announces the headline to the AP article. Outside of the minor quibble (if using the "USS" prefix, one should also use the full name of the ship; in this case, it's the USS Ronald Reagan), it's a nice, albeit brief article on our newest carrier.
When I was last up for orders, I tried to get orders to the Reagan, not only because of its namesake, but the challenges and rewards of being a "plankowner", one of the original crew when a ship is commissioned. It's not easy work taking a brand-new ship and making sure that all of the tools and equipment needed to perform its mission are requisitioned. Unfortunately, by the time I was looking, there were only a few billets left for my job, and none relating to my specific specialty. As I am in an undermanned specialty, the detailers were unwilling to let me go to the Reagan.
The Reagan is a special ship in ways other than those mentioned in the article. Only a few are obviously visible, but there are over 1300 changes from the USS George Washington, which was the sixth ship in the ten ship class (Reagan is the ninth). The most obvious is the island superstructure, which is 20 feet longer than on her sisters. The added length allows for the aft mast to be mounted on the island, rather than on the deck behind it. The masts are different, as well, they have three yardarms rather than the two on the earlier ships, which will allow for the mounting of more antennae. (Yardarms are the horizontal spars sticking out from the masts.)
The ship does not have the CIWS Phalanx system for missile defense; it uses a new system known as RAM (Rolling Airframe Missile), which uses "anti-missile missiles" to take out inbound targets.
The flight deck has been reconfigured, as well. The angle deck has been canted out an additional one tenth of a degree and extended five feet, which is just enough to allow simultaneous launch of two aircraft and recovery of one. The Jet Blast Deflectors for Catapult 2 intrude into the landing area on the earlier carriers, which means that it cannot be used for launching while the ship is recovering aircraft. Instead of the four arresting wires found on earlier carriers, the Reagan has only three, positioned a bit further back for the recovery of today's heavier aircraft.
Another subtle visible difference is the replacement of 25-man lifeboats with 50-man boats. Hopefully, they will never need to be used, but the new boats take up less overall space and weigh less than those they replace.
The bow of the ship is a totally new design for this class; a bulbous bow that will improve the ship's drag in the water. It was carefully designed to minimize the pitch and roll differences from the older ships in the class, in order to ease the transition for pilots who have landed on the other Nimitz-class ships.
The biggest change of all is not visible from the outside, however. The entire communications network on the ship (encompassing Damage Control, communications, and machinery functions) is digital-ready fiber optics, in a revolutionary new configuration known as ICAN, for Integrated Communications and Advanced Network.
Not everything on the Reagan is new, however. The anchors for the ship belonged to the now-decommissioned USS Ranger, one of the Navy's Vietnam era carriers that served with distinction in the first round of the Persian Gulf War (1991). The Ranger was withdrawn from active service in 1993, but her anchors will serve well into the 21st century, aboard a new ship with the motto of "Peace through strength".
The official command website for the USS Ronald Reagan is http://www.reagan.navy.mil. There is an interesting look at the construction of this ship here. Check it out.