On Saturday, November 9, 2013, Newport News Shipbuilding will christen the nation's newest aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) during a ceremony on-site where the ship is being constructed. President Gerald R. Ford was the 38th President of the United States. His daughter, Susan Ford Bales, will serve as the ship's sponsor, performing the traditional honor of breaking a bottle of American sparkling wine across the ship's bow during the ceremony.
The Gerald R. Ford class carriers represent a evolutionary leap in USN carrier design and operations. Most notably, the Ford class carriers will bring the following new technologies to the fleet:
- Advanced Arresting Gear using a electric motor-based system instead of the current hydraulics
- Automation of various systems onboard, reducing crewing requirements by 1,000 sailors.
- AN/SPY-3 dual-band radar
- Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) in place of traditional steam catapults for launching aircraft
- New nuclear reactor delivering more power which reducing manning requirements and maintenance requirements
- Relocation of the island and reconfiguration of the flight deck, meaning higher sustained sorties through improved aircraft handling, storage, and flow. The number 4 catapult will now be able to be used to launch full weight aircraft, unlike in Nimitz, where the number 4 catapult has restrictions due to deck clearance issues
- Introduction of a robotic munitions handling system, coupled with the relocated re-arming and re-fueling location, which reduces the number of times that an aircraft will have to be moved after landing, and eliminates the need for ordinance to cross areas of aircraft movement.
A very exciting time for the US Navy and its carrier fleet.