Navy's newest crew: 'The Three Presidents'

Story highlights

  • 1,200 sailors to go through a three-hull swap, serving aboard three different carriers in one tour of duty
  • Crew members will serve on three carriers named after presidents
  • The swap will take them from Japan, around South America to Virginia, and then back west to San Diego

(CNN)The U.S. Navy doesn't just do stuff "for fun," says the command master chief of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, but what 30% of the ship's crew will be up to over the next year or so can at least be termed pretty cool. And it will certainly be unprecedented.

Some 1,200 of the Reagan's crew will be executing what the Navy calls a three-hull swap, serving aboard three different carriers in one tour of duty as the service juggles assets to meet mission requirements.
In the swap, sailors serving on the carriers Ronald Reagan, George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt will have their own insignia and hull number.
The 1,200 are calling themselves "The Three Presidents Crew," as they will serve aboard three of the Navy's carriers named after presidents: the Reagan, the USS George Washington and the USS Theodore Roosevelt.
    The crew will even have its own insignia and hull number, CVN 220, the sum of the hull numbers of the Reagan (CVN 76), the Roosevelt (CVN 71) and the Washington (CVN 73).
    Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David Frederick aboard the Reagan came up with the logo.
    "I am honored that my art will be a part of the legacy of this 'Three Presidents' crew, and I hope that it will bring attention to the hard work of all the Sailors who are involved in this crew swap," he said.
    The swap will begin this summer. The George Washington will go from its home port in Japan to San Diego, where a crew swap with the Reagan will take place. While the George Washington crew takes the Reagan to replace the Washington in Japan, the Three Presidents crew will board the George Washington, which will be headed for Norfolk, Virginia, and an overhaul.
    The 1,200 will sail with the Washington around South America, then they will fly back to San Diego to crew the Roosevelt, which is taking the Reagan's current spot there.
    "Think of how difficult a three-hull carrier swap would be to carry out," Capt. Chris Bolt, the commander of the Reagan, said in the ship's publication, The 76er. "It's never been done before."
    "We are just moving assets around so we can continue to meet mission requirements. That's exactly what this is all about. It's not because the Navy said, 'Let's do this for fun,' " Spike Call, command master chief of the Reagan, said in The 76er.
    Seven of the Navy's 10 active aircraft carriers are named after presidents.
    As one commenter on the Reagan's Facebook page said, maybe next time, the Navy could add a fourth carrier to the hull swap and come up with ... the USS Mount Rushmore.
    Hmmm, the Navy does have the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), but there is no carrier for Jefferson. So say we sub in the Reagan and come up with CVN 292.
    Apologies to the USS Rushmore (LSD 47).