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UTAHNS TOUR BIG CARRIER, OLD RAIL CARS

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Utahns attending the Republican National Convention got close looks Tuesday at a huge aircraft carrier and vintage 1940-era railroad cars.

The USS Constellation, commissioned in 1961 and refurbished in 1993, is docked in San Diego naval yard and will stay in San Diego until an April 1997 six-month cruise. Reps. Enid Greene and Jim Hansen arranged for a tour by the delegation of the 88,000-ton ship, which carries up to 85 aircraft and a crew of 5,000."I work on the flight deck," said Lt. Tim Fahey of Chicago. "The best job in the Navy." The Constellation is one of four oil-fueled carriers still in operation in the 12-carrier U.S. fleet, said Capt. Rocky Deal. The rest are nuclear powered.

From walking the huge hangar bays to strolling the flight deck and turning the "steering wheel" in the control tower, the Utahns were much impressed. Greene sat in the command chair in the weapons center, with control buttons to some of the Navy's most powerful weapons within reach. Good thing Joe Waldholtz was in Pittsburgh, out of range.

Craftsmanship of a different kind was seen in four vintage Southern Pacific railroad cars. Utahns were hosted to a breakfast by Southern Pacific Railroad board chairman Phil Anschutz in a tent next to the cars, which were pulled up to a specially built track near the convention center.

The cars, which include hand-crafted woods in sleeping, dining and view cars, are still used by Southern Pacific for special excursions. The federal government has just approved a merger between Southern Pacific and Union Pacific railroads - which both operate in Utah - creating the largest railroad in the world.

Not to be outdone, Union Pacific officials will host the Utah delegation to a luncheon on Thursday on its special vintage cars, which sit in another rail yard close to the convention center.

Believing it is sometimes as good to give as receive, a number of delegates lent the convention floor passes Tuesday to international journalists visiting as guests of the U.S. State Department.

State Rep. Jordan Tanner, R-Provo, is a retired State Department officer. He regularly acts as a tour guide for visiting dignitaries, taking them across the country. This week he is hosting several dozen journalists and a couple of politicians from countries throughout the world. Seating is so tight in the relatively small San Diego Convention Center that GOP officials refused to give them any kind of passes - even to get into the convention lobby. By comparison, said Tanner, the Democrats meeting in Chicago in two weeks are allowing visitors onto the convention floor.

In any case, a number of Utahns stepped up and lent their credentials to the journalists for minutes at a time. Consequently, the Utah seating section in the hall was nearly empty for much of the evening Tuesday.