February 2, 2023

Trump just humiliated himself offering engineering advice about aircraft carriers to the Navy

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There are very few topics on which Donald Trump can speak with any kind of authority or really any kind of even base competency. Tax fraud he can certainly teach you a thing or two about obviously, but that’s really where his expertise ends.


Certainly, this is not the man you go to when you need questions answered about military technology. Yet, somehow Trump thinks he knows more about aircraft carriers than the engineers who design them.

The Hill reports that while talking to American sailors aboard the USS Wasp stationed in Japan, Trump took aim at the plans to renovate the catapults used to launch planes off of U.S. aircraft carriers. The Navy intends to replace them with newer, electronic systems, which for some reason Trump hates.

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“You know, they were saying — one of the folks said, ‘No, the electric works faster. But, sir, we can only get the plane there every couple of minutes.’ So, really, what they did was wrong,” said Trump.

The rambling continued from there:

“I think I’m going to put an order. When we build a new aircraft carrier, we’re going to use steam. I’m going to just put out an order: We’re going to use steam. We don’t need — we don’t need that extra speed.”

Still acting as if he had some idea what he was talking about, Trump went on to complain about the cost of the upgraded system, which he claimed is $900 million.

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“Steam’s only worked for about 65 years perfectly. And I won’t tell you this because it’s before my time by a little bit, but they have a $900 million cost overrun on this crazy electric catapult,” he said.

The weird obsession with steam isn’t a new thing for the president, and he made similar remarks in 2017 to Time magazine, taking aim at the plans to integrate a new digital system.

“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 going to goddamned steam, the digital costs hundreds of millions of dollars more money and it’s no good,’ he said.

The perplexing comments are hard to explain simply because of how random and bizarre they seem, but they could be attributed to the fact that steam technology is something Trump thinks he understands, whereas anything more advanced is far beyond his comprehension and as such intimidates him. Rather than trust the experts and engineers, he acts as if they’ve got it wrong and he knows better.

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This is not a man who is interested in learning anything he doesn’t already know and the result is that every time he opens his mouth something jaw-droppingly ignorant sputters out.

Natalie Dickinson

Natalie is a staff writer for the Washington Press. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been freelance blogging and writing for progressive outlets ever since.

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