Gerald R. Ford underway on 8 April 2017
|Name:||USS Gerald R. Ford|
|Namesake:||Gerald R. Ford|
|Awarded:||10 September 2008|
|Builder:||Newport News Shipbuilding|
|Cost:||$12.8 billion + $4.7 billion R&D (estimated)|
|Laid down:||13 November 2009|
|Launched:||11 October 2013|
|Sponsored by:||Susan Ford|
|Christened:||9 November 2013|
|Acquired:||31 May 2017|
|Commissioned:||22 July 2017|
|Homeport:||Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.|
|Motto:||"Integrity at the helm"|
|Status:||In active service, as of 2019|
|Class and type:||Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier|
|Displacement:||About 100,000 long tons (100,000 tonnes) (full load)|
|Length:||1,106 ft (337 m)|
|Height:||nearly 250 ft (76 m)|
|Installed power:||Two A1B nuclear reactors|
|Speed:||In excess of 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)|
|Range:||Unlimited, 20–25 years|
|Aircraft carried:||More than 75|
|Aviation facilities:||1,092 ft × 256 ft (333 m × 78 m) flight deck|
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) is the lead ship of her class of United States Navy aircraft carriers. 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.
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 decommissioned 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 Trump on 22 July 2017. She is expected to leave on her first deployment around 2022. As of 2017, she is the world's largest aircraft carrier, and the largest warship ever constructed in terms of displacement.
In 2006, while Gerald Ford was still alive, Senator John Warner of Virginia proposed to amend a 2007 defense-spending bill to declare that CVN-78 "shall be named the USS Gerald Ford." The final version signed by President George W. Bush on 17 October 2006 declared only that it "is the sense of Congress that ... CVN-78 should be named the U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford." Since such "sense of" language is typically non-binding and does not carry the force of law, the Navy was not required to name the ship after Ford.
On 3 January 2007, former United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced that the aircraft carrier would be named after Ford during a eulogy for President Ford at Grace Episcopal Church in East Grand Rapids, Michigan. Rumsfeld indicated that he had personally told Ford of the honor during a visit to his home in Rancho Mirage a few weeks before Ford's death. This makes the aircraft carrier one of the few U.S. ships named after a living person. Later in the day, the Navy confirmed that the aircraft carrier would indeed be named after the former President. On 16 January 2007, Navy Secretary Donald Winter officially named CVN-78 USS Gerald R. Ford. Ford's daughter Susan Ford Bales was named the ship's sponsor. The announcements were made at a Pentagon ceremony attended by Vice President Dick Cheney, Senators Warner (R-VA) and Levin (D-MI), Major General Guy C. Swan III, Bales, Ford's other three children, and others.
The USS America Carrier Veterans Association (CVA) had pushed to name the ship USS America. The CVA is an association of sailors who served aboard USS America (CV-66). The carrier was decommissioned in 1996 and scuttled in the Atlantic, as part of a damage test of large deck aircraft carriers in 2005. The name "America" was instead assigned to USS America (LHA-6), an amphibious assault ship commissioned in 2014.
On 10 September 2008, the U.S. Navy signed a $5.1 billion contract with Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding in Newport News, Virginia, to design and construct the carrier. Northrop had begun advance construction of the carrier under a $2.7 billion contract in 2005. The carrier was constructed at the Huntington Ingalls (formerly Northrop Grumman) Newport News Shipbuilding facilities in Newport News, Virginia, which employs 19,000 workers.
The keel of the new warship was ceremonially laid on 14 November 2009 in Dry Dock 12 by Ford's daughter, Susan Ford Bales. In a speech to the assembled shipworkers and DoD officials, Bales said: "Dad met the staggering challenges of restoring trust in the presidency and healing the nation's wounds after Watergate in the only way he knew how—with complete honesty and integrity. And that is the legacy we remember this morning."
In August 2011, the carrier was reported to be "structurally halfway complete". In April 2012, construction was said to be 75 percent complete. On 24 May 2012, the important milestone of completing the vessel up to the waterline was reached when the critical lower bow was lifted into place. This was the 390th of the nearly 500 lifts of the integral modular components from which the vessel is assembled. Huntington Ingalls reported in an 8 November press release construction had "reached 87 percent structural completion". By 19 December 2012, construction had reached 90 percent structural completion. "Of the nearly 500 total structural lifts needed to complete the ship, 446 have been accomplished."
The island was landed and accompanying ceremony took place on 26 January 2013.
On 9 April 2013, the flight deck of the carrier was completed following the addition of the ship's upper bow section, bringing the ship to 96 percent structural completion.
On 7 May 2013, the last of 162 superlifts was put in place, bringing the ship to 100 percent structural completion. Remaining work that needed to be done included hull painting, shafting work, completion of electrical systems, mooring equipment, installation of radar arrays, and flooding of the dry dock.
On 11 July 2013, a time capsule was welded into a small room just above the floor, continuing a long Navy tradition. The time capsule holds items chosen by President Ford's daughter, Susan Ford Bales, and includes sandstone from the White House, Navy coins, and aviator wings from the ship's first commanding officer.
The ship was originally scheduled for launch in July 2013 and delivery in 2015. Production delays meant that the launch had to be delayed until 11 October 2013 and the naming ceremony until 9 November 2013, with delivery in February 2016.
On 3 October 2013, Gerald R. Ford had four 30-ton, 21 ft (6.4 m)-diameter bronze propellers installed. The installation of the propellers required more than 10 months of work to install the underwater shafting.
On 11 October 2013, the ship's drydock was flooded for the first time in order to test various seawater-based systems. Her launch date was set to be on the same day as her naming ceremony on 9 November 2013.
As of 2013, construction costs were estimated at $12.8 billion, 22% over the 2008 budget, plus $4.7 billion in research and development costs. Because of budget difficulties, the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, warned there might be a two-year delay beyond 2016 in completing Gerald R. Ford. The GAO reported that the price cap would be met by the Navy accepting an incomplete ship for that cost.
On 23 September 2015, the Navy announced that several weeks of testing delays would likely slip the delivery date into April or May 2016. In addition, construction was 93% complete as of September 2015.
In July 2016, a memo was obtained by CNN from Michael Gilmore, the US Department of Defense's Director of Operational Testing and Evaluation indicating that problems with four major flight systems would further delay combat readiness of the ship. The ship was not expected to be delivered until November 2016 and these issues were suggested to further delay that goal. Construction of the ship was described as 98% complete, with 88% of testing finished.
By March 2018, due to issues with the nuclear propulsion system and munitions elevators, construction costs had reached $13.027 billion, making the Gerald R. Ford the most expensive warship ever built. Planned delivery to the Navy has been delayed by three months, to October of 2019.
Newport News Shipbuilding has released a video documentary on the construction of Gerald R. Ford.
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 and AN/SPY-4 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 the EMALS, 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. According to an Associated Press story:
|“||‘She is truly a technological marvel,' Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert said in a webcast ceremony at the Newport News, Va., shipyard where Gerald R. Ford is being built, 'She will carry unmanned aircraft, joint strike fighters, and she will deploy lasers.’||”|
These performance enhancements were problematic in Pentagon tests, but final software fixes for some of the problems were delayed until after the ship’s post-shakedown availability in 2019.
Operational and major system testing
In January 2014, the annual Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) report recorded that critical ship systems in lab and test environments (including the EMALS, Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG), Dual Band Radar, and weapons elevators) were not reliable enough and needed more testing and improvements. The Navy implemented a rigorous testing program to ensure performance issues would be resolved before the systems were installed on the aircraft carrier.
The Initial Operational Test & Evaluation milestone was achieved in April 2017.
On 8 April 2017, Gerald R. Ford got underway under her own power for the first time as she headed to sea for builder's trials. She completed the trials and returned to port at Naval Station Norfolk on 14 April 2017.
On 31 May 2017, Newport News Shipbuilding delivered Gerald R. Ford to the U.S. Navy and her status was changed to Special, in service. Gerald R. Ford was formally commissioned into the United States Navy on 22 July 2017. She is expected to be deployed around 2020, following further testing.
On 28 July 2017, Lt. Cmdr. Jamie "Coach" Struck of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX-23) performed the first arrested landing and catapult launch from Gerald R. Ford in an F/A-18F Super Hornet.
- Ronald O'Rourke (22 October 2013). "Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class Aircraft Carrier Program: Background and Issues for Congress" (PDF). Congressional Research Service. p. 4. Retrieved 8 February 2014. FY14 cost of CVN-79 (procured in FY13) in then-year dollars; the same budget puts the cost of CVN-78 (procured in FY08) at $12,829.3 million but that includes ~$3.3bn of development costs. CVN-80 is estimated at $13,874.2m, making the total cost of the first three Fords $38,041.9m, or $12.68bn each.
- "Newport News Shipbuilding to Flood Dry Dock and Float Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78)" (Press release). Huntingdon Ingalls Industries. 9 October 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2013.
- Murray, Dave (13 November 2009). "Gerald R. Ford ship ceremony brings Susan Ford Bales, Family to Newport News, Virginia". The Grand Rapids Press. Archived from the original on 15 November 2009.
- "Huntington Ingalls Industries Delivers Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) To U.S. Navy" (Press release). Huntingdon Ingalls Industries. 1 June 2017. Archived from the original on 6 June 2017. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
- "President Trump Commissions USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78)" (Press release). United States Navy. 22 July 2017. NNS170722-01. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
- "Aircraft Carriers - CVN". Fact File. United States Navy. 12 January 2016. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
- "787-Ton Superlift: Ford Upper Bow". Newport News Shipbuilding. Huntington Ingalls. 15 April 2013. Archived from the original on 2 February 2016. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
- Jenkins, Aric (22 July 2017). "The USS Gerald Ford Is the Most Advanced Aircraft Carrier in the World". Fortune. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
- Navy Names New Aircraft Carrier USS Gerald R. Ford – Official Announcement from Secretary of the Navy.
- "USS Gerald R. Ford CVN 78". U.S. Carriers. 8 March 2015. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
- "USS Enterprise: Past Present And Future". The Official US Navy Blog. US Navy. Archived from the original on 4 December 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
- Adams, Kathy (11 September 2008). "Newport News shipyard gets $5.1B contract for carrier Ford". Norfolk Virginian-Pilot. Archived from the original on 25 February 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
- LaGrone, Sam (18 January 2017). "Delay in Aircraft Carrier Ford Testing Could Compress Workups for First Deployment". USNI News. Archived from the original on 18 February 2017. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
- "US Navy Wants to Delay Shock Trials of $13 Billion Supercarrier". The Diplomat. 9 February 2018. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
- Szondy, David (22 July 2017). "World's largest supercarrier USS Gerald R Ford commissioned". New Atlas. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
- United States Library of Congress. "Congressional Record, S5815"., Senate Amendment 4211. Retrieved 5 December 2006.
- Garamone, Jim (17 October 2006). "President Signs 2007 Defense Authorization Act". Defenselink. U.S. Department of Defense. Archived from the original on 30 November 2006.
- "House Resolution 5122, Section 1012" (PDF). United States Library of Congress. 2 January 2007. p. 292. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 December 2010.
- "C-SPAN's Capitol Questions: Sense of Congress". CSPAN. 28 March 2001. Archived from the original on 25 December 2006.
- "Donald Rumsfeld's Eulogy for President Ford". Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum. 3 January 2007.
- "Next Navy aircraft carrier to be named for late President Gerald Ford, buried Wednesday". Associated Press. 3 January 2007. Archived from the original on 19 January 2008.
- "Remarks by Susan Ford Bales at the Naming Ceremony for the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78)". Gerald R. Ford Foundation. 16 January 2007. Archived from the original on 26 March 2008.
- "Name CVN78 USS America: A new flagship for America!". USS America Carrier Veterans Association. 21 January 2007. Retrieved 5 December 2008.
- Frost, Peter, "Shipyard Lays Keel Of Carrier In Solemn Tribute To Gerald R. Ford", Newport News Daily Press, 15 November 2009.
- "Navy's next aircraft carrier halfway complete". Signon San Diego. 18 August 2011. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- Lessig, Hugh. "Gerald Ford carrier construction reaches milestone". HR Military. Daily Press. Archived from the original on 18 April 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- Gooding, Mike. "Bow piece for USS Gerald R. Ford lifted into place". WVEC Television. Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
- "Huntington Ingalls Industries Reports Third Quarter Results; Reaches Significant Milestones on Path to 2015 Financial Targets". 4 Traders. Huntington Ingalls Industries. 11 August 2012. Archived from the original on 13 December 2014. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
- "Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) Hits the 90 Percent Mark for Structural Completion", Industries reports, Huntington Ingalls, 19 December 2012.
- "Gerald R Ford CVN 78". Newport News Shipbuilding. Huntington Ingalls. Archived from the original on 25 August 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- "Newport News Shipbuilding Completes Flight Deck On Aircraft Carrier Gerald R. Ford". Navy Recognition. 16 April 2013. Archived from the original on 26 April 2013.
- "Next milestone today for carrier USS Gerald R. Ford". ABC13 WVEC. 7 May 2013. Archived from the original on 20 October 2013.
- "Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Aircraft Carrier's Primary Hull Structure Reaches 100 Percent Completion". Huntington Ingalls. 8 May 2013. Archived from the original on 7 July 2013.
- Vergakis, Brock (11 July 2013). "Time capsule welded into future USS Gerald R. Ford". Military Times. Newport News, VA: Associated Press. Archived from the original on 19 October 2013.
- Cavas, Christopher (3 October 2013). "New Ship News – Sub launched, Carrier prepped, LCS delivered". Defense News. Archived from the original on 15 June 2014. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
- "3rd elevator installed on USS Gerald R. Ford at Newport News Shipyard". 13News Now. 16 August 2013. Archived from the original on 1 April 2016.
- "Newport News Shipbuilding Installs 30-Ton Propellers on Aircraft Carrier Gerald R. Ford". Wall Street Journal. 3 October 2013. Archived from the original on 19 October 2013.
- Lessig, Hugh (11 October 2013). "Floating the Ford: New carrier meets the water". Daily Press. Archived from the original on 16 October 2013.
- Ellison, Garret (13 October 2013). "Navy floods dry dock around USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier ahead of Nov. 9 christening". Michigan Live.
- "Aircraft Carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Christened At Newport News Shipbuilding". 12 November 2013. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013.
- Time Lapse: Keel Laying to Christening of America's Next Carrier. Huntington Ingalls Industries. 9 November 2013. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
- "Statement of Admiral Jonathan Greenert, CNO" (PDF). U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. 7 November 2013. Archived (PDF) from the original on 28 December 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
- Slavin, Erik (21 November 2014). "GAO: Navy carrier will be incomplete, cost more at delivery". Stars and Stripes. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- "Delivery of US Navy's USS Gerald R Ford aircraft carrier further delayed". Naval-technology.com. Kable. 23 September 2015. Archived from the original on 26 September 2015. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
- "U.S. Navy's new $13B aircraft carrier can't fight". CNN. 25 July 2016. Archived from the original on 25 July 2016. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
- Mizokami, Kyle (28 March 2019). "The Navy's Newest Aircraft Carrier Is Delayed, Yet Again". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
- Diplomat, Franz-Stefan Gady, The. "US Navy's $13 Billion Supercarrier Just Got Even More Expensive". The Diplomat. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
- Building Integrity, Building Ford: A Documentary. Huntington Ingalls Industries. 18 December 2017.
- Cavas, Christopher P. (8 August 2017). "Dual Band Radar Swapped Out In New Carriers". Defense News. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
- "New Ford-class aircraft carrier: 25 percent more flights per day". CS monitor. 9 November 2013. Archived from the original on 9 November 2013.
- Vergakis, Brock (9 October 2013). "Navy christens next generation of aircraft carrier". Yahoo. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016.
- "In testing phase, new carrier plagued by problems". Stars and Stripes. 10 January 2014. Archived from the original on 11 January 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
- "EMALS/ AAG: Electro-Magnetic Launch & Recovery for Carriers". Defense Industry Daily. 28 July 2017. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
- Woody, Christopher (31 July 2017). "Watch the Navy's newest, most sophisticated aircraft carrier land and launch her first aircraft" (Military and Defense). Business Insider. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
- Cavas, Christopher (18 September 2016). "Carrier Ford Has Serious Power Problem". Defense News. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
- Fabey, Michael (27 June 2017). "The US Navy's most expensive ship ever built still has a tough path to getting deployment-ready". Business Insider. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
- "Navy Alerted to Ford-class Carrier Reliability Issues", DoD Buzz, 31 January 2014, archived from the original on 4 February 2014.
- Future USS Gerald R. Ford Underway on Sea Trials. Huntington Ingalls Industries. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
- Heretik, Jack (10 April 2017). "America's Newest Aircraft Carrier USS Gerald R. Ford Begins Sea Trials". Washington Free Beacon. Archived from the original on 12 April 2017. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
- Vergakis, Brock (14 April 2017). "Aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford completes builder's sea trials". The Virginian Pilot. Archived from the original on 2 June 2017. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
- Lessig, Hugh. "Aircraft Carrier Ford Heads Out for Sea Trials". Military.com. Archived from the original on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
- Domeck, Ann (29 July 2017). "Local man pilots first plane to land on U.S.S. Gerald Ford". Fox 8 Cleveland. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
- LaGrone, Sam (28 July 2017). "VIDEO: USS Gerald R. Ford Conducts First Arrested Landing, Catapult Launch". USNI News. U.S. Naval Institute.
- This article includes information collected from the Naval Vessel Register, which, as a U.S. government publication, is in the public domain. The entry can be found here.
- Official website
- Builder's website
- Nimitz Class vs. Ford Class, Capt. John F. Meier (video, 2m7s)
OSD Operational Testing and Evaluation Annual Reports re CVN78;
- FY2013 (January 2014)
- FY2014 (January 2015)
- FY2015 (January 2016)
- FY2016 (December 2016)
- FY2017 (January 2018)