World-leading maritime technology is now officially part of the United States Navy.
Weighing in at 110,000 tons, the USS Gerald R Ford aircraft (hull number CVN 78) had its commissioning ceremony at Virginia’s Naval Station Norfolk on 22 July. As the clock struck 1000hrs, so the cutting-edge nuclear-powered aircraft carrier’s US Navy career began.
The new carrier takes its name from a former US President and, appropriately, sponsorship for the ship was provided by his daughter, Susan. Present to ceremoniously induct it was Donald Trump – the current US President. Also in attendance were various dignitaries including Captain Richard McCormack, who’ll be the first to command it once its hull hits the waves.
Costing $12.8bn to develop, the USS Gerald R Ford is the US Navy’s first all-new carrier since the mid-1970s and the lead member of the Gerald R Ford ‘Supercarrier’ class.
Initial hull construction work took place in 2009. Now, it just requires final outfitting and to undergo various trials ahead of being operationally deployed. That stage is expected to have been reached by 2021. Meantime, Ford-class carrier number two – the USS John F Kennedy (CVN 79) – is at an advanced point of construction and work has also started on CVN 80: the USS Enterprise.
"The nation's going to be very proud of USS Gerald R Ford”, enthused Admiral John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations, in the US Navy’s carrier commissioning news release. He continued: "I am incredibly thankful for the shipyard workers and Sailors who worked amazingly hard to bring this mighty ship to life.
“The new technology and warfighting capabilities that Ford brings will transform naval warfare, making us a more lethal Navy. The increased combat power will enable new ways to combine information, ships, aircraft and undersea forces, changing how we operate and fight."
Key Ford-class carrier features include a state-of-the-art reactor plant, electric plant and propulsion system and the ultra-hi-tech EMALS (Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System) and AAG (Advanced Arresting Gear) technologies.
1,092 feet long, the USS Gerald R Ford has a 256 foot-wide flight deck and the capacity to accommodate more than 75 aircraft and helicopters. Crewed by 4,539 naval personnel – including aircrew – it has a top speed of some 30 knots. Rolling Airframe Missiles and Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles are among its armament.
Both Gerald R Ford-class carrier images copyright US Navy