By on January 15, 2012

This is CVN-76, a.k.a. the Ronald Reagan. It is a true multi-role ship. Today, it hauls cars, to keep them off I-5.

The ship costs new anywhere between $4.3 billion and  $6 billion (accounts differ, assume the $4.3 b are for the stripper version). Total cost of ownership is $32 billion over the carrier’s assumed service life of 50 years, or $1.75 million for the day.

The crew sets you back another $1.40 million a day, for a total daily rate of $3.15 million.

The ship traveled from its home port in San Diego up the West Coast, to 120 Dewey Street, Bremerton, WA 98314-6012, better known as the Kitsap-Bremerton Naval Base. The Ronnie will stay there for a one year maintenance and upgrade (or make that “scheduled dock-planned incremental availability maintenance”) at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility. The crew is coming along.

To spare the Gipper-skippers the 1,264 mile drive from San Diego to Seattle, along with the associated wear & tear, greenhouse gases etc., their cars were loaded on the flight deck.  The fighter jets took the air route to an undisclosed location.

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31 Comments on “The World’s Most Expensive Car Hauler...”


  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    (accounts differ, assume the $4.3 b are for the stripper version)

    Wellllllllllll… After we add the undercoating, VIN etching on the glass, lifetime paint protectant, scotchguard, lifetime reactor vessel maint… Let me talk to the finance guy…

    • 0 avatar
      Rob Finfrock

      “Here’s the best I can do: Our selling price is $4.3 billion, and I gotta tell ya, we’ve cut out ALL our profit to get you there. With $895,000,000 allowed for your trade-in of the USS Kitty Hawk, and an additional $1.2 billion down, your payments are ONLY $25.2 million a month for the next 45 years. That’s a great deal!

      “All you have to do is sign here, please. And I’ll take your check now, too… what do you mean, “what’s your interest rate?!?”

    • 0 avatar
      thebanana

      LOL!

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    If war was to break out while en route, all those cars and truck would be sent straight to Davy Jones’ locker.

    • 0 avatar
      Abdul_Alhazred

      It’s okay, the owners would get reimbursed.

      Edit: Unless there was a waiver involved. Which there probably was.

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      The ship’s on its way to a year of scheduled maintenance, so it would have to be a pretty big one to warrant getting it back in fighting trim. A few soggy cute utes would be the least of anyone’s problems.

      The admiral’s Lincoln, presumably, is under a car cover down on the hanger deck. Even the guys with the boards on their shoulders aren’t immune to Panther love…

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “If war was to break out while en route, all those cars and truck would be sent straight to Davy Jones’ locker.”

      I’m not sure how true that would be, but…

      When enroute to and from Okinawa on a KC-135 air refueling tanker – a stripped Boeing 707, basically, with no windows – so many years ago, it was clear that for us – the 50 passengers, officers and men transferring to our operating location for 3 or 4 months, the same would hold true. In an event of a national emergency, not only would our plane refuel any B-52 or B-1 that needed to be re-fueled, but the plane would be required to give up its own fuel if need be. The sharks would later enjoy a very good meal…

      At least that’s what we were led to believe and no one ever said anything to the contrary.

  • avatar
    MrFixit1599

    When I was in the Navy, and we took the USS Pulaski around from Georgia to Bremerton for decomissioning, I recall wondering how much the Navy spent shipping everyone’s car across the country, only to ship half of them back 4 months later when the crew was transferred to the next station. Then again I doubt the cars would have withstood being strapped to the deck while being submerged, so I guess shipping them across the country was a better plan.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    CVN, not CNN. :P I worked on that carrier while it was being built.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    The Navy has been swapping whole crews to end the long deployments, but they didn’t do it here. Apparently the ship will still be available for missions on a bit more than short notice, so the crew is going too. That’s pretty hard on the crews and families, since they’ll have to find housing in Bremerton for a year and then have to find new housing in San Diego when they come back.

    The Navy has never had enough military housing for its families, so temporary moves like that are a real hardship. It’s not just cars but household goods and furniture that gets loaded, to save Navy families some of the cost of relocation.

    The Navy has been doing it for years – in 1986, a neighbor had his restored ’67 Datsun 2000 shipped from San Diego to Yokosuka when his ship’s home port was changed. The Navy even helped him get an international driver’s license and got his car registered to a California FPO address, since he’d never get it registered in Japan.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    This is called the Opportune Lift Program.

    Here is a page with more info, and application forms.

    http://www.cnic.navy.mil/PearlHarbor-Hickam/InstallationGuide/FacilitiesAndResources/OpportuneLiftProgram/index.htm

  • avatar
    Neb

    Do you think they will seafoam the reactor core?

  • avatar
    kkt

    Lots of the $1.7 B difference is probably in whether you include the air wing. The air wings can be shifted from one active carrier to another, so we only need about 3/4 as many air wings as carriers.

    Good idea to transport the crew’s possession using the carrier if it’s going there anyway.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    “The fighter jets took the air route to an undisclosed location.”

    I’m sure they went home. The embarked air wing isn’t considered ship’s company and doesn’t participate in these types of evolutions.

    It would suck to be part of that crew though.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Considering that a huge number of the sailors on the ship are single 18-22 year olds, the Navy would have had to “ship” thier cars to Washington. Afterall, they can’t drive them themselves, they are needed to run the ship. So this is a smart, money-saving idea. I sure hope thier household goods are on the hanger deck, and not in a fleet of private moving vans.

    And yet, because this is the goverment, it has to be portrayed in a snarky way, as though the goverment can never do anything right, and just wantonly wastes money at every opportunity.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    Nice to see that the US Navy takes care of their people. Don’t see why anyone would have a problem with that.

  • avatar
    TJ

    Oh does this bring back memories. The year was 1970 and the ship was the USS Constellation CVA 64. Up somewhere on the angle deck was my 1970 Plymouth Gold Duster. The Navy has been doing this for many years and it is a great way for the government and the Navy to save money. There are probably several thousand wives and children on board as well.

    The great thing about this is that for one time in your Navy Career your family can be involved in the transfer. For me it was a wonderful three days aboard a normally boring ship.

  • avatar
    DWB

    What is the point of this post? To be cute? To criticize the Navy? Something else that I’m missing?

    – Whenever a carrier has a change of home port (which is the classification of an extended yard period) they transport the cars of the ship’s company. They always do this. This is done to save money. If the car is transported on the ship, the Navy does not have to pay mileage for the change of station.

    – The crew is called ship’s company (roughly 2500 people) and they are all on the ship all the time. In the yard some will move off the ship to a berthing barge if their birthing space is not habitable but they all will be wherever the ship is located unless temporarily detached for training.

    – The ship’s company is about half of the full personnel complement when a carrier is deployed. The other half (also roughly 2500 people) is the air wing. The air wing is a separate organizational entity and may or may not deploy on the same carrier on every deployment. When the ship returns from a deployment (yard period or not) the entire air wing leaves the ship and each squadron returns to its assigned air station. This is because it’s pretty hard to fly off of a carrier that’s tied up to the dock or in the yard and pilot skills quickly perish with disuse.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      I don’t know the motivation but I first saw this picture as part of a post on Jalopnik, which was then picked up on Yahoo! this weekend.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      The incremental cost of hauling all these vehicles is almost nothing, since they only added about 3% to the ship’s displacement. It’s probably cheaper than driving them, and certainly safer.

      I think it’s a great idea.

  • avatar
    lmike51b

    As long as they’re ready and able to kick some a** when they’re needed to, I’m OK with this car hauler.

  • avatar
    geggamoya

    My attempts at embedding a youtube video failed. Miserably. So here’s a link. Of the Stig on HMS Invincible.
    http://youtu.be/_eiJkQzpzRc

  • avatar
    mkirk

    I want to see one launched off the cat.

    • 0 avatar
      cfclark

      +1.

      I have no problem with this practice–the alternative is to have hundreds of vehicles being driven or shipped from San Diego to Seattle with all the attendant expense and other variables that might keep the vehicles and/or personnel from showing up on time when the ship reaches Bremerton. This way, no one has an excuse for not being there. And, as the spouse of a one-time military (Army) brat, I know there’s little in the way of cushy relocation packages available for soldiers and sailors, so this is one perk I feel they very much deserve.

    • 0 avatar
      PJ McCombs

      “Has anyone seen my Aveo?”

      “…..”

    • 0 avatar
      obbop

      “I want to see one launched off the cat.”

      Here yah’ go:

      http://obbop.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/slowday.jpg

      One method of ridding a flight deck of unwanted items. A starboard turn, however, would be used and with full rudder used and likely a higher speed.

      Vehicles would likely “stick” to the non-skid-type deck and chocks, chains used, etc. taken away or and/or on-board powered equipment to place obstructions in a position to roll overboard.

      If not a HUGE emergency fork-lifts of industrial size could “toss” vehicles overboard; preventing damage to cat walks, etc.

      Perhaps removing chocks, etc. and releasing brakes and a sudden deceleration from high forward speed “Emergency full speed” “Aye, sir” “Sir, ship at emergency full.” “Aye”.
      “Emergency full reverse” “Aye, sir.”

      And the entire ship shudders as the massive screws, all four of them, dig into the ocean.

      “Sir, port lookout reporting that a horde of vehicles are rolling forward and hoving out of sight across the bow.”

      “Off the bow, aye.”

      http://obbop.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/carrier-turn.jpg

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    Honestly I don’t have a problem with this at all. It makes for a good and interesting story. I hope we dont’ have much of an issue of people saying “wasting taxpayers money”

    Great picture btw.

    I’m just curious how they get them on and off the carrier? What does the hangar deck look like? That would be an interesting picture too.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    The point of the post was that the story is interesting and unusual. It is entertainment. Also car-related. Don’t freak out. (Thanks to all the men and women who care enough to risk their lives to serve our country. They are the real best and the brightest.)

  • avatar
    Dukeboy01

    I don’t think anybody was being particularly snarky. I mean, the boat is going to Washington anyway. Why send it empty? I would hope that the military does this kind of thing more often with as many flights and overseas shipments as they can.

  • avatar
    TJ

    To daveainchina:
    To answer your question about how we got the cars up there was thast we drove them. The Navy put a ranp from the pier to the ship’s elevator #3. We signed our papers on the pier and then drove our cars up this ramp into the hanger bay and then across the hanger bay to elevator #4. When the elevator was full it lifted all the cars up to the flight deck where we were each parked just like at a sporting event. Every car had two chain tie downs applied for safety and we then locked the doors and had to leave the car not to come back until off load several days later.

    Off load was the reverse of the onload. We drove the cars off.

    In the 1970 move on the Constellation the hanger bay was for the most part was empty. We set up volley ball courts asnd basket ball courts for our guests to enterain themselves and also showed movies at night. Our two galleys pretty much stayed open 24 hours a day feeding all the people.

    Since I was a single man back then I was “volunteered” to work extra hours to keep the ship running so that my ship mates who had their families abord could be together.

    As I said before it was a very pleasent experience on what was normally a very boring ship.


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