The USA has had a lot of rubbish Presidents. In fact, it’s very difficult to think of more than three or four who’ve been better than mediocre. Mostly they have been self-aggrandizing incompetents who’ve done more harm than good.
But that doesn’t stop the US Navy from naming many of its warships after Presidents.
And that set me thinking. They say dogs begin to look and behave like their owners; what if naval vessels imitated those after whom they’re named?
So without further ado, and if you’re sitting comfortably, allow me to introduce to you some of the USA’s finest floating budgetary black holes:
We can begin with the USS Harry Truman. This Nimitz-class aircraft carrier doesn’t know much but it does know that dropping atomic bombs on unarmed civilians will make its captain feel fractionally less intimidated by whoever happens to be running the Russian Empire. On the other hand, when it’s not conducting human rights abuses on a grand scale it is pretty good at airlifting supplies to whatever allies may be left.
Moving on to the USS Dwight Eisenhower, another Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, we can see the trend to ever-more defense spending which in turn means ever-bigger private corporations profiting from government largess thanks to the joy of cost-plus contracts. The Eisenhower’s best days are behind it but it still puts up a good front. On the last day of its service life it will broadcast a message alerting the US public to the dangers of building large aircraft carriers such as itself and all the other carriers it’s been responsible for creating.
Then there’s the USS Richard Nixon. This one is famed for its long voyages, most notably to China and Russia where it supported important diplomatic initiatives. Unfortunately, its captain is a resentful paranoiac and insists on keeping a log of all other US Navy personnel because he believes every single one of them is out to get him. This leads to the carrier sailing round and round in ever-decreasing circles while its crew plots how to break into the operations rooms of all the other Nimitz-class carriers. Eventually the captain will jump overboard one night after being told that his commission is about to be rescinded.
The USS Jimmy Carter is a bit of an anomaly. It doesn’t really know what it wants to do with all its offensive power except perhaps to make the world a better place, but that’s difficult when your primary mission is to drop bombs on people or shoot them with enormous guns. Eventually the Carter sails off into the sunset and hardly anyone remembers it was even commissioned in the first place. Then, decades later, everyone suddenly decides it was the best of the Nimitz-class vessels. Just a few decades too late to be of any use to anyone.
Moving along we come inevitably to the USS Ronald Reagan, yet another Nimitz-class aircraft carrier (there’s definitely a trend here, right?). This carrier is the ultimate hard-to-hit ship because not only has it almost no idea where it is at any moment in time but it’s also frequently unaware of what it is. Most of the below-decks space has been converted into a huge cocaine-storage area so that the CIA can sell drugs to finance various ultra-fascist terrorist groups around the globe in order to bring peace and harmony to the world.
The USS George HW Bush is the final Nimitz-class aircraft carrier (but don’t worry, there will be a much larger and much more expensive new model coming soon to keep all those nice huge corporations in revenues for decades ahead). This carrier is actually excellent value for money as with just a tiny amount of paint it can be converted into a duplex: the USS HW & W Bush, which will make it sound rather like an old-fashioned family firm of accountants. This vessel specializes in sailing up close to obscure little countries that used to be quasi-allies and then bombing the hell out of them. Afterward the ship sails off as fast as it can while the captain and crew all sing their theme song “Mission accomplished / Now we don’t give a fuck / It’s your bad luck / What happens next!”
The USS Barack Obama will be the first Ford-class aircraft carrier the USA puts into service. It will cost more than twice as much as a Nimitz-class vessel and cost twice as much per year to operate, and that’s before the aircraft are paid for. This ship will start off well-intentioned but spend most of its life blockaded in harbor by a flotilla of Republican skiffs and patrol boats, all of which will claim to be acting in the US interest while irreparably harming US interests. Eventually its captain will come to the end of his commission and become the most popular former captain of any US Navy vessel, at least among those with more than a first-grade education.
No list of US Navy vessels would be complete without the inevitable USS Donald J Trump Stable Genius & Greatest President In History Of The Entire Universe. This ship will be heavily promoted as “the greatest ship, the best ship, no one’s got a ship like mine, it’s the smartest ship, bigger than that black guy’s ship, I mean, look at the size of its hands, it’s so smart, no ship’s ever been smarter, I don’t know, we’ll look into it, maybe yes, maybe no, who knows?” In reality the USS Donald J Trump (abridged) will be an incontinent child’s remote-controlled orange duck, much soiled, currently discarded by the side of the town pond and bearing the unmistakable marks of a black Sharpie pen.
Lest it be thought that our musing over names must be restricted to the USA, a damp and dreary little island on the east of the Atlantic ocean provides us with more examples of the power of naming things.
The HMS Queen Elizabeth is the UK’s attempt to wear some Big Boy Pants despite having so little money that they can’t actually afford (i) to put any aircraft on it for several years, and (ii) have any surface-to-surface missiles to defend it in any way against aggressors. Which makes it an extremely expensive floating target for every adversary armed with more than a rubber catapult. Matters are made worse by the fact that the captain is convinced the ship will be much improved by smashing huge holes along both sides of the hull because back in the Good Old Days when proper ships were made of oak, that’s where the cannons fired from. The Queen Elizabeth will slide beneath the waves shortly after this brilliant attempt at quasi-time-travel, while the captain and senior officers chant “We don’t need experts! Sinking means sinking! A hard sinking is better than no sinking at all!”
Sliding further east we encounter the Адмирал флота Советского Союза Кузнецов, which in English can be truncated to the Admiral Kunetzov. This is a very old and ramshackle vessel kept operational by junior ratings working 18-hour days in terrible conditions for virtually no pay, at least when they’re not being hired out as male prostitutes by the senior officers. Meanwhile those same senior officers are busy selling off all removable items of value to anyone who’s got the cash and doesn’t care about obtaining receipts. Its captain-for-life loves to conduct military operations against small defenseless countries which can then be presented as magnificent victories for the glorious motherland. Unfortunately, rust has eaten the hull to eggshell thinness but no one cares because the vodka supplies are still plentiful.
The SS Mozambique is named after the country it proudly represents. At a cost of US $2 billion this vessel is the most expensive ship in the fleet of any African nation, including the much wealthier countries of South Africa and Nigeria. The only teeny-tiny flaw is that it doesn’t actually exist except on paper and in the Swiss bank accounts of several Mozambique politicians.
On the western end of the South Atlantic, the Argentine carrier Veinticinco de Mayo is a testimony to dogged survival. Nearly eighty-five years old, it lumbers through the waves powered by a potent mix of populist pride and elastic bands. While it has no use whatsoever as a military asset, it serves the nation well by being the repository of 19,287,441 pairs of shoes owned by the late Evita Peron. Under a special arrangement with the Philippines it also stores 14,533,809 pairs of shoes owned by Imelda Marcos. Rumor has it that Zappos is considering buying the hulk as a publicity stunt.
That concludes our brief examination of the power of names.
Thanks for making it this far. Your sacrifice has been appreciated.