* Coral Sea, A Requiem *
"Regarding the gotterdammerung of the Coral Maru; what a shame. But all good
things must come to an end and the "Ancient Warrior" had a pretty good
I know my feelings about her demise are not shared by many who loved her
I for one am somewhat pleased that Coral Sea went out as she lived, not
a whine but with a challenge. I'm told that no less than three companies
tried to demolish her went broke in the process. Yeah, they finally got
her, but it wasn't easy.
That ship, more than any I know was built to steam, to fly airplanes and to do battle. She sure did all three very well and for more years than most any other. Frankly, I would hate to see her as a museum or tourist trap somewhere - something for the uninitiated to gawk at in not understanding what made her great, just missing the point.
Yes, she was well built, expensively equipped and the product of an outstanding design. Sure she wallowed in any sea at all but, when the chips were down, Coral Sea ALWAYS met the challenge - head on, and came away a winner.
And no, it wasn't steel, gray paint or money that made her great. It was the spirit and morale of her crews, all who manned the ship over her 40 year history. I was aboard shortly after she became operational in Norfolk and was impressed by the esprit de corps of her crew and their pride in her massive dimensions, cleanliness and beauty. I was there for her decommissioning more than a generation later.
Long since dwarfed by newer, bigger, faster and now, jazzier carriers, the Coral Sea still looked pretty good, at least on the outside. But, though she may have suffered a little in comparison with newer ships, the pride of her decommissioning crew in THEIR ship pervaded the pier and the ceremony. When one of her crewman sang her hymn, "God Bless the Coral Sea" there may have been some dry eyes there, but I didn't see them and certainly my own watery optics didn't help.
The obvious question is why? What was it that brought this wonderful result? This great spirit? How can we duplicate it? Like the father in "Fiddler on the Roof," I have the answer: I don't know. But now and again, such ships just seem to come along. In my career I would place Enterprise and Kitty Hawk in this group (albeit not QUITE as high). But that begs the question and, again, I just don't know. If I ever find out and can sell it to today's more politically correct Navy, we'll set records for years to come.
Anyway, there she goes. She has done her bit for her country and for those who manned the ship and made her great. Perhaps the Coral Sea will soon be forgotten as former crewmen who manned her, die, and go away. I won't see that. I'll never forget her. God bless her."
- Admiral Peck entered the Naval Service as an apprentice seaman in 1944 and 35 years later retired a Rear Admiral. He is a heavily decorated veteran. He commanded and flew many strikes into Viet Nam. He rose through the ranks and in 1972 he reported aboard the USS Coral Sea as the Commanding Officer. In later years he would again return to the USS Coral Sea as an Admiral, using her as his flagship.