Dear Josh: A Government of Fighters

by / 0 Comments / 216 View / October 15, 2015

How many aircraft carriers does the US have, and how much does it cost a month to operate them?
-David, Belton

My boss, ladies and gentlemen. The US currently has ten aircraft carriers with two in reserve. We are currently legally obligated to have at least ten carriers in operation (down from 11 to allow the USS Enterprise to decommission, a ship which I’m told was problematic to say the least). A single carrier strike group, including associated aircraft and a submarine, as well as a crew of around 6,700 men and women, costs approximately $6.5 million dollars a day to operate according to a report written by Captain Henry J. Hendrix, for the Center of a New American Security. Across a month that’s approximately $1.95 billion dollars for the ten carriers.

Now, the new Ford class carriers are more expensive to build, roughly $13.5 billion a ship versus the current cost of a Nimitz class carrier at around $7 billion. However, they are projected to be more economical ships, operating at $1.5 million a day, or $45 million a month, soundly beating current costs of about $195 million a month, per carrier. I’m told part of the savings comes from having to nuclear refuel significantly less; current carriers have to be refueled every four or six years, while the new Ford class carriers may take up to 30 years before having to refuel.

The defense budget is high, but there’s a reason for that.

Who would win in a fight? Ronda Rousey or Bruce Lee?
-Will, Keansburg

Oh wow. Okay, let me preface this by saying I’m by no means extensively trained in martial arts and my only relevant experience comes from watching a bunch of MMA and playing a lot of fighting games. That being said, it’s important to establish a few things about Bruce Lee. First, legendary martial artist that he was, he did not have an extensive record fighting in professional combat sports. Thus, what we know of the man comes from his legacy in movies and the accounts of other martial artists who encountered him. What is known is that he was trained in judo by one Gene LeBell, a world renowned judoka and a martial arts legend in his own right. LeBell is important for reasons I’ll bring up later.

Bruce had a history as a boxer in high school, and his proficiency in the art of wing chun is well known, so he was a proficient striker. LeBell, however, taught him judo and catch wrestling. According to Dan Inosanto, another legendary martial artist who was under Lee’s tutelage, Bruce was a gifted grappler, able to transition from boxing to wrestling quite fluidly. This is even more noteworthy due to the dearth of grappling in the martial arts scene circa the 1960s and ’70s, and is now the fundamental philosophy behind MMA. Combine this with Bruce Lee’s extensive study of physiology and anatomy, and this completes a portrait of a man who could strike at a body with surgical precision and decisively end matches.

I still think Ronda takes it. She’s won medals in judo competition since 2004, landing a bronze at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Her current professional MMA record is 12-0, finishing nine fights by submission, three by knockout. She’s tested against opponents at the world level. Say what you will about the women’s bantamweight division; MMA competitors today possess a far more robust skill set than martial artists from even twenty years ago, let alone the opponents Bruce Lee would have fought in the 1970s. Bruce generally weighed around 135 pounds, so he would have been in the same weight class as Rousey, and therefore wouldn’t have had a significant weight advantage. Ronda, as a competitive fighter, has more experience actually fighting people. As cool as the one inch punch was, I don’t see Bruce being able to shoot it out at a moment’s notice, at least from the prep time that archival footage indicates it would’ve taken. And finally, Gene LeBell, Bruce’s judo instructor, happened to be a coach of Ronda’s as well. He says Ronda would have Bruce “for lunch.” Take that as you will.

Bruce was in better movies though. That is unquestionable.