The aircraft carriers from “Top Gun” and “Top Gun: Maverick”

Top Gun: Maverick” has finally been dethroned as the highest grossing film in the world, by the recently released “Jurassic World: Dominion”. Top Gun, which has become something of a pop culture phenomenon again, 36 years after the original film was released in 1986, reprises naval aviator Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.. The sequel features a lot of symmetry, and a lot of granular commonalities, with the first film. So it’s no surprise that the new movie also takes place (in part) aboard an aircraft carrier.

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The first Top Gun movie takes place aboard the USS Enterprise (CVN-65), where the movie begins and ends. Enterprise, the only Enterprise-class aircraft carrier built, was commissioned in 1961, a quarter-century before Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer’s bromance climaxed on the 1,123-foot deck. But more importantly, the Enterprise was the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Powered by 8 Westinghouse A2W nuclear reactors, the Enterprise had unlimited autonomy and could remain at sea for a quarter of a century if necessary. Obviously, the Enterprise – with the nuclear power of it – represents a defining moment in naval warfare.

In addition to participating in fictional crises during Top Gun, the Enterprise was also deployed during several high-profile non-fictional conflicts. In 1962, just a year after commissioning, the Enterprise was used to blockade Cuba, to prevent the Soviet Union placed nuclear missiles on the island of Castro, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Enterprise was also the first nuclear-powered ship to see combat, in 1965, when she launched planes against the Viet Cong. The ship valiantly served during the second half of the 20th century and into the 21st century. On her last deployment, in 2012, Enterprise spent 238 days at sea, logged nearly 81,000 miles and launched more than 2,000 sorties over Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. Finally deactivated in December 2012, the Enterprise had served for half a century.

Successors and more sequels

Since the Enterprise could not reprise its role in the Top Gun sequel, the film’s producers found alternatives: the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) and the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72).

The Theodore Roosevelt, which coincidentally entered service in 1986, the same year Top Gun was released, is the fourth Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The ship was the first aircraft carrier to be assembled using a technique known as modular construction. With modular construction, large ship modules are built independently in “rest” areas, before being hoisted by crane and finally welded together. This technique, made possible by a massive gantry crane capable of lifting 900 tons, cut the Theodore Roosevelt’s construction time by nearly 16 months. The ship first saw action during the Operation Desert Storm, where she launched more than 4,200 sorties, more than any other aircraft carrier. Sorties launched from the Theodore Roosevelt dropped 4,800,000 pounds of ammunition during the conflict.

Also appearing in “Top Gun: Maverick” is the fifth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, the Abraham Lincoln.. Commissioned in 1989, three years after the Theodore Roosevelt, the Abraham Lincoln was involved in a now famous incident, the Tomahawk missile attacks on Osama bin Laden’s operations in Sudan and Afghanistan. President bill clinton he authorized the attacks, dubbed Operation Infinite Reach, at a time when his administration was embroiled in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Operation Infinite Reach, a response to al Qaeda attacks on terrorist embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, was the first time the United States had acknowledged launching a preemptive strike against a non-state actor. Usually, Operation Infinite Reach is considered a failure; Osama bin Laden survived and continued to plan his attack on the United States. Abraham Lincoln also saw President George Bush’s blunder 43 “Mission Accomplished.”

Appearing in “Top Gun: Maverick” was not Abraham Lincoln’s film debut. In 2004, the ship was used as a filming location for one of cinema’s biggest flops, Stealth, starring Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx and Chuck Yeager of “The Glory’s Picks.” The film included a full-scale mockup of the fictional F/A-37, which was shot aboard the Abraham Lincoln.

About the Author: Harrison Kass is Defense Editor-in-Chief at 19FortyFive. A lawyer, pilot, guitarist, and minor professional hockey player, he enlisted in the US Air Force as a pilot trainee, but was medically discharged. Harrison holds degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon School of Law, and the New York University College of Arts and Sciences. He lives in Oregon and regularly listens to Dokken.

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The aircraft carriers from “Top Gun” and “Top Gun: Maverick”