Carrier Harry S. Truman commissioned in Norfolk Clinton tweaks Congress on military spending

July 26, 1998|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

ABOARD THE USS HARRY S. TRUMAN -- President Clinton used the dramatic backdrop of the nation's newest nuclear aircraft carrier yesterday to chastise Congress for failing to approve Pentagon funding requests.

"Harry Truman knew that a president's ability to persuade others in the world is greatly enhanced when commanding the world's strongest military," Clinton said, standing on the ship's hangar deck. "And on this day, our persuasiveness has been enhanced considerably."

While pledging U.S. forces will remain "fully capable of meeting our commitments around the world," Clinton stressed that Congress must do its part.

He singled out congressional defense committees for failing to respond to a month-old emergency request for $1 billion in funds for training and maintenance programs. And he complained that Congress has failed to include in its fiscal 1999 budget $1.9 billion for the missions in Bosnia and the Persian Gulf.

But the focus of the day was a celebration of the United States' military might and the role that the USS Harry S. Truman, named for the nation's 33rd president, will play in maintaining it.

An elaborate commissioning ceremony for the $4.5 billion ship, docked in Norfolk, began when Clinton landed in a helicopter on the carrier and received a 21-gun salute. After speeches from Clinton and other dignitaries, contemporary and World War II-era warplanes flew overhead. At the command, "Bring her alive," the TTC crew of about 6,000 jogged from the pier up the gangplanks and onto the deck of the massive ship.

The 20-story-tall carrier covers 4 1/2 acres. Almost 1,100 feet long, it is powered by two nuclear reactors and is capable of exceeding speeds of 30 knots using four bronze propellers.

The next Nimitz class carrier, due in 2002, is to bear President Reagan's name.

Pub Date: 7/26/98

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