By Rear Adm. Tom Moore, Program Executive Officer for Aircraft Carriers
Today we celebrate a milestone in the construction of the Navy’s next generation aircraft carrier, the Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78). The island is among the last of 160 total superlifts, and as it is landed on the flight deck, the ship will really take shape. I’m joined today by folks from the Navy, Huntington Ingalls Industries, and the ship’s sponsor, Mrs. Susan Ford Bales, who spoke at the keel-laying ceremony in 2009, and will christen the ship later this year.
Island landing is a shipbuilding construction milestone largely unique to aircraft carriers, and is similar to the stepping of the masts aboard sailing ships or the topping out of a skyscraper. It marks a symbolic end to structural work, and the start of the equally challenging work of bringing the ship to life, turning steel and cable into a living ship and crew.
The Gerald R. Ford is the first of the Ford class of nuclear powered aircraft carriers that will be the centerpiece of American naval combat power and projection for most of the 21st century! This mighty warship is a technological marvel that includes many new technologies such as the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launching System (EMALS) that will launch aircraft such as the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter, and a new generation of unmanned vehicles. Other enhancements include improved weapons handling systems, and flight deck changes. The design and construction of these ships is a testament to the innovation and technological expertise of our Navy and shipbuilding partners.
The new shape and location of the island, compared to previous aircraft carriers, will immediately identify Gerald R. Ford to everyone who sees her as a new design with new capabilities. The island will house the new Dual Band Radar, the most advanced radar in the Navy, capable of providing full surveillance, weapons targeting, and air traffic control for the carrier and her strike group. The smaller island and its new location, farther aft than on any other carrier, enables her to launch and recover more aircraft per day, and generate sorties more rapidly than any other previous aircraft carrier.
My personal experience as an engineer in the Navy’s nuclear power program, and my many years working on the Navy’s aircraft carrier programs, make today a truly memorable event for me. I’d like to thank all who have sacrificed to provide our nation with the most impressive ship in the world, which will make our Navy stronger than it has ever been before.
Gerald R. Ford will serve our country well into the 2060s, far beyond my career, or that of anyone present at this ceremony. Thanks to the foresight of the Navy and shipbuilder team, the CVN 78 will be more than capable of meeting any challenges that come her way.
If you missed the ceremony, you can watch it on the Navy’s Livestream channel.
What are your thoughts on the design of the Gerald R. Ford? Let us know by commenting below.