I wasn’t aboard yet at the time of the christening, but from what I understand Nancy Reagan took a couple of attempts to get the bottle to break over the bow of the ship named after her husband. There were definitely a string of bad accidents that happened in the first few years the ship was in operation.
Had a couple of shipyard workers killed when working in void spaces before the Reagan was moved to the outfitting berth.
A string of exploding circuit breakers started a serious fire in two electrical loadcenters, and seriously injured a shipyard worker when one exploded in his face. Further investigation showed that we’d received a shipment of old breakers that should have been sent for refurbishing by the manufacturer, not to our ship. 800+ of the type had to be replaced or refurbished on-site.
The command’s sailor of the year was sent to the brig and kicked out of the Navy for popping positive on a drug test.
A Chief Storekeeper dropped dead of a heart attack while crossing the brow onto the ship.
Delays and setbacks mean the ship is commissioned at only ~80% complete. But that one I mostly blame on the Commanding Officer at the time. And this was after commissioning was pushed back three months. The crew found out about that from the Virginian Pilot, instead of from the chain of command.
One of our new firemen was killed in a car accident less than a month after checking aboard the ship.
A new arrival in Engineering attempts to rob a bank in downtown Norfolk shortly before we leave to sail around the Horn.
Another one of our new firemen shot and killed his wife shortly before departure.
Strange occurrences as we passed through the Bermuda Triangle during our around the Horn transit (much longer story there- that’d be a separate post). 3/4 of the crew is afflicted by a norovirus at the same time in the first week of the cruise.
After rounding South America, a series of electrical malfunctions create serious concerns about whether or not we’ll be able to pull into San Diego under our own power. We did, but it took a bit of a workaround, and some significant repairs after we arrived. Also, we almost smoked out Nancy Reagan on one of the elevators during the homecoming ceremony. But that’s all I’m allowed to say about that.
A senior sailor (I forget which department) committed suicide aboard the ship shortly after checking onboard in the fall of 2004.
This was a very, VERY bad year for the ship, in particular for my department.
Shortly after the new year, we got underway from San Diego to Pearl Harbor with supplies and cargo planes for tsunami relief. This happened five days out:
Two weeks after we got back to San Diego, this happened in my division. I wasn’t on duty that day, but I know exactly what happened. Interlocks should have kept it from happening, but somehow they failed to kick in and ended up pretty much destroying a unique generator set that’s supposed to last the life of the ship. We had to steal a replacement from the Bush, under construction, and it took over two months to replace and recertify all the surrounding systems. Our Reactor Officer and Executive Officer were both forced into retirement over that, and several junior personnel lost their qualifications.
Five months after that, one of our senior nuke electricians was found dead in his rack of a combination of drugs reacting with a pre-existing heart condition he had.
Three months after that, a junior hull tech from Engineering died in his sleep of a drug overdose while we were in Santa Barbara to be wined, dined, and showered with money by our sponsors, the Reagan family and the Santa Barbara Navy League.
A month after that, one of our nuke mechanics was killed when his motorcycle was run over by an 18- wheeler who’s driver fell asleep at the wheel on the 8 Freeway.
Over the course of this year, my division lost 25 out of 60 personnel, some from the above mentioned accidents, but most from problems that stemmed from poor morale, and terrible leadership in our immediate chain of command.
We left San Diego on our maiden deployment on the 4th of January. Everything was pretty quiet until we got to Australia a couple of weeks later, then this happened. Contrary to what the spokespeople said, there was a MASSIVE effect on pretty much every system of the ship below the waterline, and it took us weeks to get everything completely sorted out. And it pretty much ruined the port visit for all of Reactor and Engineering.
The day after leaving Brisbane, this happened, off the Great Barrier Reef. The pilot survived, and nobody else was injured in the incident.
Very shortly after that, bags of trash from the ship started washing up offshore. Needless to say, it was a long time before another carrier pulled into Australia after that.
The rest of the deployment was really quiet, but a lot of my friends got back to find their wives had picked up new boyfriends, and taken the car, they furniture, and all their savings in the process.
I left the ship in 2006, so I can’t really speak to anything that happened after that, as I wasn’t there to see it myself. As for the Fukushima thing, I knew several of the radiological controls folks who were monitoring the situation, and I don’t know if I believe all the stories of lawsuits of people claiming radiation poisoning. But that’s another post altogether.
So, tl;dr- yeah, my friends and I were pretty sure the Reagan was cursed for at least a portion of the time we were aboard.