Meridian Star

Local News

May 4, 2014

Butler, Ala. native serves aboard USS Ronald Reagan

SAN DIEGO — A 2009 Choctaw County High School graduate from Butler, Ala. is serving on one of the world's largest warships, the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).

    Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley Nolan is a logistics specialist aboard the San Diego-based ship, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and one of only 10 operational aircraft carriers in the Navy today. Named in honor of former President Ronald Reagan, the carrier is longer than three football fields, at nearly 1,100 feet long. The ship is 252 feet wide and weighs more than 100,000 tons. Two nuclear reactors can push the ship through the water at nearly 35 mph.

    Nolan said, before the Navy she was a completely different person, explained how it has changed her life in a positive way.

    "Joining the Navy has helped me mature and introduced me to many cultures," Nolan said. "It has helped me develop a stronger work ethic which will be very valuable in building my future."

    She also said she is proud of the work she is doing as part of the Reagan's 5,500-member crew, protecting America on the world's oceans.

    Sailors' jobs are highly varied aboard USS Ronald Reagan. Approximately 3,000 men and women make up the ship's company, which keeps all parts of the aircraft carrier running smoothly - this includes everything from washing dishes and preparing meals to handling weaponry and maintaining the nuclear reactors.         Another 2,500 or so form the air wing, the people who actually fly and maintain the aircraft.

    "I never cease to be impressed with the type and quality of work that goes on aboard the carrier each day," said Capt. Christopher E. Bolt, the carrier's commanding officer.  "Our team is filled with highly qualified young adults - in many cases, 19 and 20 years old - and they're out here launching and recovering aircraft, running a complex propulsion system safely, serving as air traffic controllers, operating sophisticated electronics, and keeping this floating city alive and functioning.

    "Their work ethic, enthusiasm, and esprit de corps are second to none. If you pick up a newspaper in any city and examine what other 19- and 20-year-olds are doing, there is no comparison to the level of responsibility our sailors hold. That caliber of sailor is what has earned us the title of AMERICA'S FLAGSHIP."

    USS Ronald Reagan, like each of the Navy's aircraft carriers, is designed for a 50-year service life.  The ship carries more than 60 attack jets, helicopters and other aircraft, all of which take off from and land aboard the carrier at sea.  

    Powerful catapults slingshot the aircraft off the bow of the ship. The planes land aboard the carrier by snagging a steel cable with an arresting hook that protrudes from the rear of the aircraft.  All of this makes the Ronald Reagan a self-contained mobile airport, and often the first response to a global crisis because of a carrier's ability to operate freely in international waters anywhere on the world's oceans, a Navy press release states.

    As a member of one of the U.S. Navy's most relied upon assets, Nolan and other USS Ronald Reagan sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, according to the press release.

    "I would suggest the Navy to anyone who is looking to better themselves by acquiring skills and education to build for a better life," said Nolan.  "On top of that, seeing the world has been something the Navy has given me and that is something that I will never forget."

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