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New Addition to the Fleet

(AP) NEWPORT NEWS, VA (March 29) The US Navy, amidst lavish celebration, launched the newest addition to the Fleet today: the USS William J. Clinton. The Clinton, according to a Navy spokesperson, will add a new twist to the Navy's capabilities and will solve a number of problems that have arisen in the years since women were added to the complements of Navy vessels. USS Clinton, designated AGH(M)-1, is a brand-new, state-of-the-art Maternity Hospital Ship. Navy Spokesman Ben A. Mittlesteadt, briefing reporters before the christening ceremony (the ceremony for the "ship," not its occupants) stated that the new vessel is designed to alleviate the serious challenges associated with the ever-increasing incidence of shipboard pregnancies.

"We are concerned that the necessity of evacuating female sailors from fleet units has become an difficult operation, given the number of evacuees that we have to deal with on a weekly basis. USS Clinton will be equipped with its own helicopter airlift wing in order to relieve the maternity transportation burden on existing combat units."

The Clinton is to be the first of a twelve-ship class, each 80,000 ton ship costing $230 million. A Clinton-class ship will be added to each of the Navy's carrier battle groups to ensure full combat-readiness in the face of the increasing number of expectant naval personnel.

Each AGH(M) will be provided with a fully-equipped OB/GYN staff, a complete birthing facility (staffed by Navy medical personnel trained as midwife/Lamaz specialists), and a neonatal clinic. A comprehensive day-care center will be included in order to allow new sailor-mothers to return to duty as quickly as possible, which will greatly increase the efficiency of Navy operations, Mittlesteadt told reporters.

In a departure from Navy tradition, the ship's sponsor, NOW president Patricia Ireland, christened the vessel by breaking two bottles across the ship's bow: one containing infant formula, symbolizing the services to be provided to a new generation of Navy juniors, the other filled with kiwi/orange/cucumber nectar, representing the Navy's commitment to fulfilling the needs of its pregnant crewpersons. The second ship of the class, the USS Murphy Brown (AGH(M)-2), is scheduled to be launched next year.


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