President Ford worked to salvage United States military prestige yesterday (May 3) when--less than a week after the fall of Saigon he was present at the commissioning of the world's largest warship.
Aerial view new carrier
GV AND SV CREW drawn up as President Ford arrives with captain (3 shots)
SV Mast and radar
SV Officers with Ford (3 shots)
SCU Ford speak ng
LV Carrier in harbour (2 shots)
TRANSCRIPT: SEQ. 5: FORD: "We are strong. We will continue to be strong. We will keep our commitments. And we will remain a great country. Without the five aircraft carriers which served as the nucleus of our forces operating off South Vietnam, we could not have rescued all of the remaining American citizens and thousands of endangered Vietnamese from Saigon within twenty hours."
CHARLES GIBSON: The world's largest warship, the nuclear-powered carrier Nimitz, was commissioned in Norfolk, Virginia, on Saturday -- and United States President Ford used the occasion, coming only a few days after the fail of Saigon, to salvage some American military prestige.
"She's the biggest there is, by any measure. Almost four hundred yards long and four and a half acres of flight deck. Nuclear powered, the Nimitz could stay at sea for thirteen years without refuelling. She'll house a hundred planes, sixty-three hundred men; she'll cruise at more than thirty knots. And for those who were enlisted men, and think in such terms, it takes seven-hundred and seventy-six gallons of paint to cover it -- flight-deck to water line. To commission the Nimitz, the Navy found a World War Two lieutenant, who served in somewhat smaller carrier then -- President Ford came to commission the most powerful warship ever built. There was an irony to the commissioning ceremony, coming as it did just four days after the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam. That fact was not lost on President Ford, and he did not ignore it."
"The Nimitz, costing six hundred and eighty-four million, now joins the Atlantic fleet. She's to be joined by two more carriers of the same type -- the Dwight D. Eisenhower, costing seven-hundred and fifty-million, and the Carl Vincent, one-point-two billion. this is Charles Gibson in Norfolk, Virginia."
Initials BJB/1910 BJB/1930
Coverage includes commentary by TVN reporter Charles Gibson.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: President Ford worked to salvage United States military prestige yesterday (May 3) when--less than a week after the fall of Saigon he was present at the commissioning of the world's largest warship.
He described the ship -- the Nimitz, America's second nuclear powered aircraft carrier -- as visible evidence of U.S. commitment to friends and allies. Named after the Pacific commander-in-chief during World War Two, the Nimitz cost a staggering 690 million dollars (300 million sterling) to build.
The new ship carries a crew of 6,000 and its two nuclear reactors are capable of powering it for 13 years without refuelling.
During his speech at the commissioning, President Ford praised the role of existing U.S. aircraft carriers in helping the evacuation from South Vietnam: