Debunking Right Wing Bulls**t: The Aircraft Carrier Meme


Coming soon to a Facebook feed, email or political thread near you… a new meme made to attack President Obama and his administration. Unlike some of those picture memes that take a grain of truth and twist, distort and/or misrepresent it, this one is an out-and-out lie. Thanks to Bob Collins of Minnesota Public Radio, we have a chance to kill this one before it can get a foothold.

Here is what the meme says about that picture up at the top of this story:

What is wrong with this picture? The picture is of the five nuclear carriers. Just like Battleship Row, Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. This picture was taken the other day in Norfolk. The Obama Administration ordered 5 nuclear carriers into harbor for “routine” (?) inspections. Heads of the Navy were flabbergasted by the directive. NORFOLK, VA. (February 8, 2013). The first time since WWII that five (*) aircraft carriers were docked together. USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), USS Enterprise (CVN 65), USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) are all in port at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., the world’s largest naval station. Sources stated that this breached a long standing military protocol in the Navy meant to avoid massive enemy strike on major US forces. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Ryan J. Courtade/Released)

A Google search brought back a page full of stories on this “outrage” with only this source (MPR) and Little Green Footballs getting it right.

Not one word of this is true. Well, okay, the names of the ships and the location are correct, but that’s all. Everything else is propaganda. This picture was taken in December (a bit ironic considering their little allusion to Pearl Harbor), for one thing, not “the other day.” It shows the USS Enterprise, the USS Eisenhower, the USS Harry Truman, the USS Bush and the USS Lincoln docked at Norfolk, VA. None of them are there for “routine maintenance.” The Enterprise has been decommissioned and is being dismantled (sadly). The Eisenhower headed off for its deployment in the Middle East last Thursday; it had been in port to get its landing deck resurfaced. The Harry Truman was going to deploy but has been held up due to a request by Navy officials. The Bush is not an aircraft carrier; it was in port for a study to see if it could be fitted as one and its deployment has been cancelled. Finally, the Lincoln is in port for a refueling mission, something that has now been cancelled due to looming budget cuts. The Navy also says that this is not the first time since Pearl Harbor that so many carriers were moored together. Thanks for playing, though, Neo-con asshats.

These ships, save the Enterprise and Eisenhower, are all examples of what the cuts due to the sequester are doing to our military.  The Truman is an especially egregious case in that its crew had already prepared for deployment. When a crew gets ready to leave on an extended mission, they have to arrange for caretakers for children and pets, store their belongings, end rental agreements and many other things that a sailor must deal with in the circumstances. Now, many of these crewmen and women will have nowhere to stay, no deployment pay to handle bills, and no transportation. What’s more, the status of their ship could change at any moment. So there you have it, the Republicans and their ersatz support of our military.

Oh, and what is really going on with that picture? The active ships – aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships – were there so that their crews could be home for Christmas:

Home for Christmas: 9 Flattops at Norfolk naval base, December 20, 2012.

With the returns from deployment of the carrier DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER on Dec. 19, and the amphibious ships IWO JIMA and NEW YORK on Dec. 20, the piers at Norfolk’s naval base are about as full up as they’ll ever be.

Five aircraft carriers, four big-deck amphibious assault ships, a full cast of “small boy” surface warships, along with nuclear submarines and support ships, are crowding the base, giving a comfortably snug feeling to the waterfront. Similar scenes — although not with the gathering of flattops seen here — are taking place at other fleet concentration areas like San Diego and Pearl Harbor.

The Navy makes a point of trying to gives its shipboard crews a chance to spend Christmas with their families, and for a few days the percentage of ships underway drops to the lowest point it will be all year. But many of these ships will be gone in two weeks as the pace of operations picks up again.

In a decade or so, scenes such as this at Norfolk could become quite rare, as the fleet is in the midst of a gradual shift from the Atlantic to Pacific. Within a few years, about sixty percent of the U.S. Navy’s ships will be homeported at a Pacific base – virtually a mirror image of the Cold War emphasis on the Atlantic.

What kind of brazen, partisan hacks would use a picture the Navy released to show how they let their troops have the holidays with their families and then write deceptive bullshit to go with it? How obnoxious is that? All so that they could score some cheap political points! I swear, I hope each and every one of the people who created this and anyone who passes it along as truth gets to smoke a turd in purgatory. This is despicable.

Editor’s Note: We here at Addicting Info take accuracy very seriously. While the overall point of this story is accurate, we would like to make the following corrections:

The USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) is indeed an aircraft carrier, the last of the Nimitz class. It has also already completed a deployment in support of U.S. military operations in the Middle East. (Source:

The USS Enterprise (CVN 65) has been placed on the deactivated list as of December of last year with decommissioning planned for March of 2013. The budget questions brought about by sequestration threaten the Navy’s plans for the nuclear defueling and full decommissioning of the Enterprise. (Source:

The USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) is moored at Naval Station Norfolk awaiting the outcome of sequestration’s effect on its planned mid-life Refueling and Overhaul (ROH, formerly Refueling and Complex Overhaul, RCOH) at Newport News Shipyard. This multi-billion dollar undertaking is typically performed in the middle of a carrier’s active lifespan, at which time a major systems overhaul and nuclear reactor refueling typically take it out of service for several years. The work will not be performed at the pictured pier(s) at Norfolk Naval Station. (Sources: and

The deployment of the USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75) has been postponed due to the budget concerns caused by the possibility of sequestration. The carrier and crew are currently on standby and can be deployed on extremely short notice. (Source:

Our apologies for any confusion these questions may have caused.

Photobucket      T. Steelman is a life-long Liberal. She has been writing online about politics since 2007. She lives in Western Washington with her husband, daughter, 2 cats and a small herd of alpacas. How can anybody be enlightened? Truth is, after all, so poorly lit…