The first in the Navy’s newest generation of aircraft carriers, the USS Gerald Ford was christened Saturday and will set sail loaded with the latest technology and innovations.
The nuclear-powered ship is one of 10 the Navy plans to build, CNN said,
bringing advances like using electromagnetic force, rather than pressurized steam, to launch planes off the deck. Although it looks much like the Nimitz carriers, the $12.8 billion Ford ship can carry more warplanes and will be able to launch 25 percent more missions daily than the Navy’s current ships.
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In addition, the ship was designed to be more efficient than carriers operating today and it will sail with 1,000 fewer personnel onboard than the Nimitz-class carriers, CNN said. Adjustments to the design that require 30 percent less maintenance support the plan that the Ford will save about $4 billion over its lifetime. The ship is expected to remain in service until 2057, CNN said.
About 20,000 people attended the christening ceremony in Newport News, Va., the Grand Rapids Press reported,
but even more from Ford’s home in Grand Rapids, Mich., watched via a live stream at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. Former President Ford’s daughter Susan Ford Bales christened the ship honoring her father.
Capt. John F. Meier will be the first commanding officer of the Ford carrier, CNN said. He will oversee the final construction over the next few months.
While 10 such carriers are planned, budget constrictions may change how the Navy decides to spend money, CNN said. Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, said last month that the number of aircraft carriers the Navy maintains may have to be reconsidered, although they are a “critical” part of the country’s defense.
“You have to go where the money is, and carriers and air wings are quite expensive,” Greenert told the Daily Press
. “I’d hate to say it is inevitable, but we have to look very hard at it. We need to continue to build nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. How many we retain in force is a matter of question.”
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