U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump made a visit to the USS Wasp docked at the mouth of Tokyo Bay. Aboard the USS Wasp, Trump gave a Memorial Day speech to hundreds of members of the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet.
— U.S. Forces Japan (@USForcesJapan) May 28, 2019
During Speech Trump criticizes U.S. Navy Aircraft carrier design as ‘Wrong,’ Will Order an Overhaul
During his remarks, the president once again took aim at the Navy’s plans to overhaul traditional steam-based catapults used for launching aircraft with newer electric systems, calling it a “wrong” choice.
“You know, they were saying — one of the folks said, ‘No, the electric works faster. But, sir, we can only get the plane there every couple of minutes,’ ” Trump said aboard the USS Wasp, according to a White House transcript, adding: “So, really, what they did was wrong.”
“I think I’m going to put an order,” the president continued. “When we build a new aircraft carrier, we’re going to use steam. I’m going to just put out an order: We’re going to use steam. We don’t need — we don’t need that extra speed.”
Trump took aim specifically at the cost overrun for the project to upgrade the catapult systems, which he said had reached $900 million.
“Steam’s only worked for about 65 years perfectly,” the president added.
“And I won’t tell you this because it’s before my time by a little bit, but they have a $900 million cost overrun on this crazy electric catapult,” Trump said.
The Navy’s use of steam catapults to launch aircraft from ships has become a pet issue for the president.
The president also polled the aircraft carrier’s personnel over their preferences and Bloomberg reported the cheer for traditional catapults were considerably louder than for EMALS.
Ford’s Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) is replacing traditional steam catapults as the preferred way to launch aircraft off navy ships. Trump, however, suggested there was no way to know whether the more modern system would work efficiently during wartime.
In an interview with Time magazine in 2017, he pledged that the service would not switch to “digital” catapults for launching aircraft, claiming that service members had to be “Albert Einstein” to successfully use the newer systems.
“It sounded bad to me. Digital. They have digital. What is digital? And it’s very complicated, you have to be Albert Einstein to figure it out. And I said—and now they want to buy more aircraft carriers. I said, ‘What system are you going to be—’ ‘Sir, we’re staying with digital.’ I said, ‘No you’re not. You going to goddamned steam, the digital costs hundreds of millions of dollars more money and it’s no good,’ ” he said at the time.