U.S. Navy Takes Delivery of First Next-Generation Aircraft Carrier, Gerald R. Ford

gerald r ford delivery
Huntington Ingalls Industries delivered the first-in-class aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) to the U.S. Navy on May 31, 2017. Photo by Matt Hildreth/HII

The U.S. Navy has accepted delivery of its first next generation aircraft carrier, the future USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), from Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding.

Delivery on Wednesday followed the ship’s successful completion of acceptance trials May 26.

Ford is the lead ship of its class and the first new-design aircraft carrier delivered to the Navy since USS Nimitz (CVN 68) in 1975. It is also the first aircraft carrier to join the fleet since USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) delivered in 2009.

The Gerald R. Ford class, designed to replace Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, delivers greater flexibility than its predecessors due to its larger flight deck, the ability to host more aircraft, additional weapons and aviation fuel storage, and a new electromagnetic aircraft launch and advanced arresting system. The Ford class also features a new nuclear power plant and a redesigned island, and will be able to increase sortie rates by one-third when compared to the Nimitz class. Further, the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier generates three times the amount of electricity as previous classes and is designed to rapidly add capabilities as new systems become available over the course of its projected 50-year service life.

Each Ford-class ship will also operate with a smaller crew than a Nimitz-class carrier and will provide $4 billion in total ownership cost savings for the Navy, according to Newport News Shipbuilding.

The aircraft carrier Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) pulls into Naval Station Norfolk for the first time following several days of builder’s sea trials, April 17, 2017. U.S. Navy Photo

“Congratulations to everyone who has helped bring CVN 78 to this historic milestone,” said Rear Adm. Brian Antonio, program executive officer for aircraft carriers. “Over the last several years, thousands of people have had a hand in delivering Ford to the Navy — designing, building and testing the Navy’s newest, most capable, most advanced warship. Without a doubt, we would not be here without the hard work and dedication of those from the program office, our engineering teams and those who performed and oversaw construction of this incredible warship. It is because of them that Ford performed so well during acceptance trials, as noted by the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey.”

“Well done to our shipbuilding partners, Ford’s crew and everyone who supported them,” said Vice Adm. Tom Moore, commander, Naval Sea Systems Command, who also embarked for acceptance trials.

The future USS Gerald R. Ford honors the 38th president of the United States and pays tribute to his lifetime of service to the nation in the Navy and in the U.S. government.

Ford will be commissioned into the Navy fleet this summer, formally placing the ship into active service. Afterwards, there will be a “shakedown” period where the ship will conduct several at-sea events to provide longer underway periods for the ship’s crew to operate and train on ship’s systems. In addition, planned deferred work will be performed, and any deficiencies identified during trials will be addressed during in-port periods.

Ford is expected to be operational in 2020 following achievement of initial operational capability.

“Today is a historic day for Newport News Shipbuilding and one that is personally rewarding for me,” said Newport News Shipbuilding President Matt Mulherin. “I’ve had the pleasure of watching our shipbuilders bring this great warship to life. From her first cut of steel to her final round of testing, Ford is proof of our shipbuilders’ exceptional skills and talents. I am proud of their innovation, perseverance and unwavering commitment that has built the most advanced aircraft carrier in the world. We are honored to deliver Gerald R. Ford to the Navy, and we do so with full confidence in her unmatched power and ability to sail the seas in protection of our freedom for the next half century.”