U.S. Navy has commissioned its newest nuclear-powered supercarrier, USS Gerald R. Ford to its fleet in a ceremony in Norfolk, Virginia.
The ceremony of officially commissioning the aircraft carrier, named in honor of the 38th president, was attended by U.S. President Donald J. Trump and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Service members and their families, senior defense and military officials and other dignitaries, including Ford’s daughter and the ship’s sponsor, Susan Ford Bales, were aboard the warship for the ceremony.
The ship named for Ford is the lead ship of a new class of supercarriers and the first new carrier design in the Navy since the USS Nimitz was commissioned in 1975. The Ford is also the first aircraft carrier to join the fleet since USS George H. W. Bush in 2009. Ford is expected to be in operation in 2020.
The Navy received the Ford on May 31 after the carrier successfully completed acceptance trials on May 26. It features a new nuclear power plant, a redesigned island, electromagnetic catapults and an enhanced flight deck capable of increased aircraft sortie rates. Ford-class carriers will operate with smaller crews than their predecessors in the Nimitz-class.
Mattis called the ship a “magnificent warship [that] joins the best Navy in the world. It is named after a tried-and true member of the Greatest Generation, and that spirit will permeate this ship so long as it sails on the seas, as well as the U.S. Navy spirit of ‘We have just begun to fight,’” he said.
Addressing Trump, Mattis said, “Mr. president, you will send this ship in harm’s way and [it] will happily sail in harm’s way for you, for our nation and for what we stand for.”
Trump called the ship an American symbol of power and prestige wherever it sails in the world.
“This ship is the deterrent that keeps us from having to fight in the first place,” Trump said. “But this ship also ensures that if a fight does come, it will always end the same way. We will win … we will never lose.”
At the ceremony’s conclusion, Ford Bales gave the order, “Man our ship and bring her to life.”
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78):
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) is the lead ship of her class of United States Navy supercarriers.
The ship is named after the 38th President of the United States Gerald Ford, whose World War II naval service included combat duty aboard the light aircraft carrier Monterey in the Pacific Theater.
Gerald R. Ford is intended to be the first of a class of aircraft carriers that offer significant performance improvements over the previous Nimitz class.
Gerald R. Ford is equipped with an AN/SPY-3 active electronically scanned array multi-function radar, and an island that is shorter in length and 20 feet (6.1 m) taller than that of the Nimitz class; it is set 140 feet (43 m) further aft and 3 feet (0.91 m) closer to the edge of the ship.
Replacing traditional steam catapults, the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) will launch all carrier aircraft. This innovation eliminates the traditional requirement to generate and store steam, freeing up considerable area below-deck. With this EMALS innovation, Gerald R. Ford can accomplish 25% more aircraft launches per day than the Nimitz class and requires 25% fewer crew members.
The Navy estimates it will save $4 billion in operating costs over a 50-year lifespan.
The keel of Gerald R. Ford was laid down on 13 November 2009. Construction began on 11 August 2005, when Northrop Grumman held a ceremonial steel cut for a 15-ton plate that forms part of a side shell unit of the carrier.
She was christened on 9 November 2013. Gerald R. Ford entered the fleet replacing the inactive USS Enterprise (CVN-65), which ended her 51 years of active service in December 2012.
Originally scheduled for delivery in 2015, Gerald R. Ford was delivered to the Navy on 31 May 2017 and formally commissioned by President Donald J. Trump on 22 July 2017.
She is expected to leave on her first deployment around 2020.
Source: U.S. DoD