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Navy Launches Aircraft Carrier Named for ex-President Reagan - 2003-07-12

The U.S. Navy has honored former President Ronald Reagan with the commissioning of its newest ship, the first ever named for a living American president.

The nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was placed into active service Saturday, with former first lady Nancy Reagan on-hand to witness the colorful ceremony.

The Nimitz-class carrier is nearly as long as the Empire State Building in New York City is tall (about 335 meters), and stands 20 stories above the water. With two nuclear reactors, the ship can travel faster than 30 knots and operate for 20 years without refueling.

The nearly 100,000-ton ship, to be based in San Diego, California, will be home to six-thousand sailors and can carry more than 80 aircraft.

The 92-year-old Mr. Reagan did not attend the ceremony. He rarely has ventured from his California home since revealing in 1994 that he has Alzheimer's disease.