by Bill Sloat
Ohio native was first American to orbit earth, flew 149 combat missions in WWII and Korea
Glenn is under construction in San Diego, where a keel-laying ceremony
signifying the initial step in construction was held earlier this week.
When it enters the fleet, which is expected in 2015, the vessel will be
837 feet long and displace 80,000 tons when loaded. Navy officials say
they can use it for both warfighting and humanitarian missions. The ship
was in the Pentagon budget before the current debate over the fiscal
cliff and defense spending cuts got under way. Meanwhile, NASA is no
longer able to put astronauts in orbit because funding for manned
flights ended when the space shuttles were grounded.
was a Marine pilot who became one of NASA’s seven original Mercury
astronauts. He was friendly with John F. Kennedy, who recruited him to
become a politician. During his years in the Senate, he was among Ohio’s
most popular elected officials. Glenn ran for president in 1984 but
didn’t make it out of the primaries. He was a flop as a national
Navy officials say they plan to build three ships similar to the USNS John Glenn, which
are designed as giant sea-going supply and troop platforms. They can
carry three hovercraft for amphibious operations. The Navy calls the
ships Mobile Landing Platforms and says the design is based on the huge
commercial supertankers that carry crude oil from Alaska.Glenn is in his nineties and attended the keel-laying ceremony. He is active and campaigned last fall for President Barack Obama’s reelection.