USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) was commissioned today in a ceremony here in Groton, Connecticut. The new submarine replaces the USS Parche, a special operations submarine which was decommissioned in October of last year. USS Jimmy Carter will be capable, according to the linked article above, of speeds in excess of 45 knots (52 mph). (I can neither confirm nor deny that fact; I merely quote the article. However, official sources usually state speeds in excess of 25 knots [29 mph].) President Carter spoke at the ceremony (which I did not attend) and said in prepared remarks that having a submarine named for him is “the most deeply appreciated and emotional honor I’ve ever had.”
According to several public sources, citing military analysts, the new submarine will be able to wiretap communications cables. Analysts infer this because the Jimmy Carter replaces the Parche, which was formerly used for the task (see Blind Man’s Bluff by Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew). In any case, the Navy has publically stated that the submarine will perform special operations and reconnaissance missions.
Unfortunately, some rather silly comments have been made by people who misunderstand the naval tradition of naming vessels after people. Specifically, to Fr. John’s preference for service on the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) to service on the Jimmy Carter, I reply, “There are two kinds of ships: Submarines and targets.”
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