Warship named for elder Bush

Published October 8, 2006

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Spraying the bubbles from sparkling wine across the enormous gray bow of the USS George H.W. Bush, the Bush family on Saturday christened the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier named after the 82-year-old former president.

Bush, a decorated Navy pilot in World War II, joined the armed forces on his 18th birthday, June 12, 1942. "After our nation was attacked at Pearl Harbor, you simply couldn't find anyone who wasn't anxious to sign up," he said.

Doro Bush Koch, Bush's daughter, handled the ritual smashing of a bottle of sparkling wine against the flattop's bow. President Bush and Gov. Jeb Bush also attended.

The $6-billion, 1,092-foot-long CVN 77 is not yet finished and is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy in late 2008. The 10th of the Nimitz-class carriers - the largest warships in the world - features technological advancements that make it a bridge to the next generation of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

The elder Bush choked up during his informal and sentimental address, while talking about the men with whom he served in World War II. Four Navy veterans who served with him during the war traveled to the ceremony.

"This is every naval aviator's dream," Bush said