If you were familiar with Donald Trump’s affection for and obsession with using steam-driven catapults to launch aircraft from the decks of carriers instead of the newest electromagnetic technology, you would have been as delighted as I was when the commander of the USS Ronald Reagan, Capt. Pat Hannifin, basically called the president a technological idiot and politely mocked him. The captain had the perfect comeback to Trump’s Einstein comment.

Business Insider calls Trump’s notion about using steam to power carrier catapults “bizarre.”

President Donald Trump returned to one of his more bizarre concerns about the US military on a call with US service members overseas on Thanksgiving Day.

Talking to a US Navy officer on the phone from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Trump asked about a pet peeve of his: the catapults aircraft carriers use to launch aircraft.

This is from a May 2017 Time Magazine interview with the president:

“You know the catapult is quite important. So I said, ‘What is this?’ ‘Sir, this is our digital catapult system.’ He said, ‘Well, we’re going to this because we wanted to keep up with modern [technology].’ I said, ‘You don’t use steam anymore for catapult?’ ‘No sir.’ I said, ‘Ah, how is it working?’ ‘Sir, not good. Not good. Doesn’t have the power. You know the steam is just brutal. You see that sucker going, and steam’s going all over the place. There’s planes thrown in the air.’

“It sounded bad to me. Digital. They have digital. What is digital? And it’s very complicated; you have to be Albert Einstein to figure it out. And I said — and now they want to buy more aircraft carriers. I said, ‘What system are you going to be —’ ‘Sir, we’re staying with digital.’ I said, ‘No you’re not. You’re going to goddamned steam. The digital costs hundreds of millions of dollars more money, and it’s no good.'”

Trump talked to Capt. Patrick “Fin” Hannifin, the commanding officer of the carrier Ronald Reagan which was moored in Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong.

Hannifin is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in mechanical engineering and he received a master’s in international relations from the University of San Diego. He completed the Joint Campaign Planning and Strategy from the Joint Advanced Warfighting School (JAWS), and Navy Nuclear Power Training in March 2012. His naval career prior to assuming command of the Reagan is impressive. There are no bonespurs on this sailor and aviator who has logged has more than 2,800 hours of flight time in 33 different aircraft.

Watch the exchange at 20 minutes in here, it is amazing to view Trump speaking as if he knows what he’s talking about. Watch his expressions as he goes from lecturing the commander on the excellence of steam as if he’s the expert, to being lectured right back on how and why he’s wrong.

I’d like to buy the good captain a glass of grog. He has to be applauded for his quick thinking when he schooled the president on cutting edge naval technology and for his spontaneous spot-on and witty response to Trump’s Einstein comment.

Trump: “So when you do the new carriers, as we do and as we’re thinking about doing, would you go with steam, or would you go with electromagnetic? Because steam is very reliable, and the electromagnetic, I mean, unfortunately you have to be Albert Einstein to really work it properly. What would you do?”

Hannifin: “Yes sir, you sort of have to be Albert Einstein to run the nuclear power plant that we have here as well, but we’re doing that very well. Mr. President, I would go electromagnetic [catapults] … We do pay a heavy cost to transit the steam around the ship.”

Trump: (after pausing and pursing his lips) “Good, OK, I like to hear that. I’m actually happy about that answer. They’re doing what they’re doing, but that’s actually a very good answer.”

Trump often quotes Einstein, sometimes inaccurately (Donald Trump Has Tweeted A Lot of Fake Albert Einstein Quotations)  and I assume that he considers his own giant brain to be Einsteinian the same way considers himself to be one of the two or three of the greatest presidents.

Capt. Hannifin took Trump to school yesterday. He deserves a promotion when the Democrats take over in two years. I like the sound of Rear Admiral Hannifin.

As for President “Bonespurs” Trump, I suggest with due apologies to the memory of Walt Disney and Steamboat Willy, Mickey Mouse, a new nickname: Steamboat Donny.

Addendum: This is from Stars and Stripes:

Trump again questions technology central to Pentagon’s plans for launching aircraft at sea

Below: At least Steamboat Willie knew how to captain a steamboat. Watch classic Mickey Mouse deput cartoon.

1 COMMENT

  1. Strictly technically, Mr. Brown, offering the Captain a glass of grog is mildly insulting.

    “Grog”, as invented, was watered-down rum, as opposed to the full-strength stuff. Imagine offering an Irishman a bottle of, say, Coors versus a bottle of, say, Guinness. Whether it was devised to keep sailors sober or to save money on rum is yet an open question among seafarers.

    Steady as she goes, Mr. Brown. Jon

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