One of the lesser-known trademarks of Abraham Lincoln is how deeply involved he was in the Civil War that was occurring during his time in office. Every President must attend to the politics and economics behind a war effort, but few have ever been so committed to the actual execution of the war as President Lincoln. One of the most famous anecdotes about his administration was that he would spend many hours of every day in the telegraph room at the War Department, working in seclusion while waiting for news from the battlefield. This series, Abe’s War Room, pays tribute to those efforts.
If there is one thing about military weapons that has become clear over the last 100 years, it is that bigger is better. And while conventional military thought has moved in the direction of lethality and efficiency, this has not stopped the major military powers of the world from building absurdly large vehicles and weapons pretty much because they can. Follow the break to read about the largest warship ever.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt
Since the first aircraft carriers appeared prior to WWII, they have gotten increasingly bigger and more bad-ass. Today, they have gotten so massive that they have been termed “supercarriers”, outstripping any other warship that has ever sailed the high seas before them. Currently, the title of heaviest of all supercarriers is the USS Theodore Roosevelt – and it is massive, displacing about 117,000 tons of water.
Put into service in the 1980’s, the USS T.R. is over 1,000 feet long and can carry almost 100 aircraft. It has the capacity to hold over 5,500 sailors, pilots, and ground crew who work to make sure that the United States can blow up anything it wants within a reasonable distance from water. The supercarrier is also powered by two nuclear reactors, meaning that it could theoretically sail the seas for 20-25 years straight without having to refuel.
When the ship launched in 1984, over $4.5 billion in 2007 dollars had been put towards her construction. It turned out to be money well spent; planes launched from the T.R. flew more missions than those from any other ship during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1991, dropping nearly 5,000,000 pounds of munitions in total.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt is also known as “the Big Stick”, named after T.R.’s philosophy on foreign policy: “Speak softly, but carry a big stick.”
An honorable mention in the largest ship category goes to the now decommissioned USS Enterprise, which is 28 feet longer than the T.R. but is only the eighth heaviest ship to be built.