The death of the U.S. Army’s largest warship is one of a series of unexpected and unexpected tragedies that have plagued the naval ship, which has been named for another former president.
For those who lost loved ones or friends aboard the Secretariat, the most devastating moment may have come in 2010 when the ship sailed for its final deployment and was hit by a North Korean missile.
The crash of the ship was described as the worst military tragedy since the death of John F. Kennedy in 1963 when his plane crashed during a pre-flight mission. Kennedy’s plane’s crash, though, was blamed on pilot error and not sabotage.
The Secretariat was traveling on a routine patrol off the coast of South Korea when the missile exploded about 7.5 miles off the coast of Seongju, a small fishing island in western North Korea.
The Secretariat, as the most capable warship in the U.S. Navy, has been deployed dozens of times in war zones since 1969 and is among the most well-equipped of all the Navy vessels.
“This is one tragic loss and yet it isn’t surprising that it happened,” said Scott Pace, the former deputy secretary of defense for operations and maintenance. Pace retired in 2011 from the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., after more than 50 years of service.
The ship was heavily damaged, but officials could not say how much, if any, damage was caused by the missile.
In the past two decades, the ship also was damaged by Soviet and Chinese submarines, and more than 2,000 sailors have died in sea accidents there since its 1968 construction.
The ship has also suffered many major mechanical failures and fires, and the Secretariat has a reputation among sailors as a tough, unforgiving place. The ship became synonymous with the Secretariat’s reputation.
Secretariat: A Portrait of a Navy Hero
During his presidency between 1989 and 1993, President George H.W. Bush commissioned the Secretariat to replace the USS Independence. In his 1996 State of the Union Address, which reflected the changes of the Reagan and Bush administrations, President Bill Clinton wrote that the ship was an example of what is possible even as he said it could not match the strength and prestige of the USS Independence.
“I was a young lawyer before I went to naval service and now I see that that is how all naval ships should be: a place of honor, of
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