U.S. Navy to Commission USS Gerald R. Ford, Its First New Aircraft Carrier Design in 40 Years

The aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) pulls into Naval Station Norfolk for the first time, April 14, 2017. U.S. Navy Photo

The U.S. Navy is getting ready to commission its newest and most advanced aircraft carrier, the future USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), during a ceremony this Saturday at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia.

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is the lead ship of the new Gerald R. Ford class, the Navy’s first new aircraft carrier design in more than 40 years, and will begin the phased replacement of Nimitz-class carriers when the ship is commissioned.

President Donald J. Trump will deliver the ceremony’s principal address, while Susan Ford Bales, Ford’s daughter, serves as the ship’s sponsor.

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CVN 78 honors the 38th president of the United States. During World War II, Ford attained the rank of lieutenant commander in the Navy, serving on the light carrier USS Monterey (CVL 26). Released from active duty in February 1946, Ford remained in the Naval Reserve until 1963. Ford was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1948, where he served until President Nixon tapped him to become Vice President in 1973. Ford became president in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal and served in the country’s highest office from 1974-1977.

“The nation’s going to be very proud of USS Gerald R. Ford,” said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson. “I am incredibly thankful for the shipyard workers and Sailors who worked amazingly hard to bring this mighty ship to life. This Saturday will be a huge day for our Navy and our nation. 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.”

In total, the Navy plans to spend $43 billion developing and building three new Ford-class ships–Ford, the future USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), and the future USS Enterprise (CVN 80). All three ships will be built by Huntington Ingalls Industries.

Among other advancements compared to the compared to Nimitz-class carriers, the Fords’ predecessor, the Gerald R. Ford class incorporates advances in technology such as a new reactor plant, propulsion system, electric plant, Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG), machinery control, Dual Band Radar and integrated warfare systems. In fact, the Gerald R. Ford-class carriers have more than 23 new or modified systems compared to the Nimitz-class.