By Capt. Ronald Ravelo
Commanding Officer, USS Abraham Lincoln
This Veterans Day, we take time to honor our men and women who have served in our armed forces in the defense of our nation. Veterans Day began as Armistice Day to mark the end of World War I, when the main hostilities were silenced. Congress modified the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day on Nov. 8, 1954. This November, the crew of USS Abraham Lincoln, both past and present, remembers another special anniversary – the commissioning of USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).
On Nov. 11, 25 years ago, with an estimated 18,000 guests in attendance, USS Abraham Lincoln was commissioned at Norfolk Naval Base, Pier 12. The honorable Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense, was the principal speaker. Other speakers included Adm. Carlisle A.H. Trost, Chief of Naval Operations, and The Honorable James R. Thompson, former Governor of Illinois. The Ship’s Sponsor JoAnn K. Webb, wife of former Secretary of the Navy James H. Webb, Jr., also attended along with other dignitaries.
“Reflecting back on the passage of the last 25 years, I remember the thousands who gathered to experience the commissioning of the Lincoln and thoughts of what the future would bring to the thousands of men and women who have proudly served her,” said Ms. Webb. “I am so proud to be the sponsor of the USS Lincoln. I wish her and her crew calm seas and safe passage wherever they may sail.”
At the time of USS Abraham Lincoln’s commissioning, the USS Coral Sea (CV 43) was in Norfolk for its planned decommissioning. Aircraft carrier USS America (CV 66) and the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), among other ships, were present on that day as well. Past and present were together that day just as it is today. USS Abraham Lincoln is currently undergoing its Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH) in Newport News, Va., as Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford is undergoing construction.
Once the RCOH is complete, USS Abraham Lincoln will continue to operate in the U.S. Navy fleet for another 25 years.
We are currently undergoing a rebirth of our ship. I stand amazed at the remarkable job our Sailors have accomplished in modernizing and rebuilding USS Abraham Lincoln for future Sailors to serve aboard. I look forward to the day when USS Abraham Lincoln departs Newport News in 2016 and is haze gray and underway.
Lincoln is currently 45 percent complete with RCOH and we are on track for delivery in October 2016. In fact, on Nov. 3, just last week, USS Abraham Lincoln undocked successfully, this is a significant milestone in the RCOH process.
For me assuming command of USS Abraham Lincoln at this critical juncture in its carrier lifespan is very satisfying. I enjoy working with my Sailors and witnessing firsthand their excitement, dedication and commitment to return the Lincoln to sea.