President Trump Commissions USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78)
(Source: US Navy; issued July 22, 2017)
USS Ford (CVN 78), the first new US aircraft carrier designed in 40 years, has had more than its share of cost overruns and technical faults, but was commissioned despite glaring deficiencies in its ability to operate aircraft. (US Navy photo)
NORFOLK --- President Donald J. Trump commissioned the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) at a commissioning ceremony July 22.

A commissioning is a day of celebration, and honors the dedication, team work, and collaboration of Sailors, legislators, shipbuilders, program managers, and the ship's sponsor in delivering the ship to the fleet.

Trump landed on the flight deck in Marine One and was greeted by Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Acting Secretary of the Navy Sean Stackley, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, and USS Gerald R. Ford Commanding Officer Capt. Rick McCormack.

Over 10,000 friends and family members attended the event, watching the festivities from the hangar bay, the pier and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69).

Distinguished members of the party offered remarks to honor the occasion.

"Wherever this vessel cuts through the horizon, our allies will rest easy and our enemies will shake with fear because everyone will know that America is coming and America is coming strong," said Trump. "Our true strength is our people. Our greatest weapon is all of you. Our nation endures because we have citizens who love America and who are willing to fight for America."

He continued, "We are so very blessed with warriors who are willing to serve America in the greatest fighting force in history, the United States military. Today this ship officially begins its role in the noble military history of our great nation."

Stackley also addressed the crowd.

"So, skipper, as we marvel at the technology and the daunting numbers that measure this ship, never lose sight that in times of crisis, you will be the first to respond, and when called upon, you will deliver the final word in the bidding of our nation," said Stackley. "Whenever you sail, wherever you sail, you will be a symbol of Unites States resolve and you will be a symbol of the man whose name you bear."

After the ship's sponsor and President Ford's daughter Susan Ford Bales gave the traditional command to "Man our ship and bring her to life," Ford Sailors ran up the brows and manned the rails as the band played "Anchors Aweigh."

McCormack expressed his pride in the work his crew has done to get the ship ready to serve in the fleet.

"The Sailors aboard today are among our nation's finest," said McCormack. "They are talented, driven, innovative, dedicated, and passionate about what they do and I am very proud to be their commanding officer. Team Wolverine, I have the utmost faith and confidence in your abilities to handle any challenge ahead, and I can think of no better team to take this ship to sea."

After the ceremony, the ship was opened to the general public for tours, which included the flight deck, the commanding officer's in-port cabin, pilot house, mess decks, fo'c'sle, and the newly opened tribute room.

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

CVN-78 honors the 38th president of the United States and pays tribute to his lifetime of service in the Navy, in the U.S. government and to the nation. During World War II Ford attained the rank of lieutenant commander in the Navy, serving on the light carrier USS Monterey (CVL 26). Ford became president in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal and served in the country's highest office from 1974-1977.

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The Navy's Put Down A 'Significant Bet' On the $13 Billion USS Gerald R Ford, Which Some Say Is A Risky Gamble (excerpt)
(Source: CNBC.com; posted July 22, 2017)
By Jeff Daniels
-- The newest and most expensive carrier ever entered the U.S. Navy fleet Saturday, nearly three years behind schedule and costing about $2.4 billion above plan.
-- When building the USS Gerald R. Ford carrier, the Navy ditched battle-tested features found on previous carriers and instead went with more expensive technology that hasn't always worked out as expected.
-- The ship isn't expected to be fully operational until at least 2020, and its controversial catapult system hasn't launched an actual aircraft at sea.


The newest and most expensive aircraft carrier ever built entered the U.S. Navy fleet Saturday, but almost three years behind schedule and billions of dollars over its estimated budget.

With Saturday's commissioning, the carrier will go back into testing and training, and isn't expected to be fully operational until 2020 at the earliest. The ship's catapult has yet to launch an actual aircraft at sea and the vessel has only had helicopters land on its deck.

Although it has yet to be put to the test, some already say the USS Gerald R. Ford is an example of the Navy's costly and risky bet on "immature" technology.

Experts say the Navy's decision to roll out some untested technologies in its next-generation classes of ships has been a costly lesson. For example, the new Ford aircraft carrier going into the Navy fleet cost nearly $13 billion, or around $2.4 billion above plan.

The Navy "made a significant bet on the newest and latest cutting-edge technology, and it bet that all of those technologies would mature as these platforms were scheduled to come online," said Jerry Hendrix, senior fellow and director of the Defense Strategies and Assessments Program at the Center for a New American Security, a non-partisan Washington think tank.

Hendrix added, "Unfortunately some of those technologies did not mature. Hence, we're seeing some delays in some critical programs, including the new Ford-Class carrier."

Although years behind schedule, the Ford carrier was formally commissioned into the Navy's fleet Saturday in a ceremony in Virginia, which was attended by President Donald Trump. The president had previously visited the carrier in March.

In remarks Saturday, Trump called the Ford carrier "the newest, largest and most advanced aircraft carrier in the history of this world."

When building the new Ford carrier, the Navy ditched the steam-powered catapult system found on the older Nimitz-Class carriers and went instead with a electro-magnetic aircraft launch system. Similarly, the Navy went with an updated arresting gear to catch planes landing on the ship's deck. (end of excerpt)


Click here for the full story, on the CNBC website.

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