The United States Navy received the most powerful addition yet to its fleet of aircraft super carriers Thursday, the USS Gerald R. Ford. After 12 years of construction and US$12.9 billion, the new carrier was delivered to the Navy from Newport Shpbuilding.
The ship is nearly 1,100 feet long with an expanded flight deck width of 256 feet, allowing it to hold more than 75 aircraft at a time. This is the first ship of the new Ford class, which is expected to be a premier asset for the US Navy’s crisis response, deterrence, power projection and striking capabilities.
According to the Navy, the newest super carrier, which went US$2 billion over budget and was delivered behind schedule, will be able to increase sortie rates by more than 30 percent when compared to its predecessors. The Ford also has new launch and recovery technologies. It will be the Navy’s first carrier to have all electric utilities, compared with previous models that contained some steam services.
The last carrier added to the fleet was the USS George H. W. Bush, which was delivered to the Navy in 2009. The Navy refers to its aircraft carriers as the “centerpiece of the forces necessary for operating forward.” The new Ford class of carriers has received some criticism for its exorbitant costs, including from Senate Arms Committee Chair John McCain (R-Ariz.), who said “we simply cannot afford to pay US$12.9B for a single ship,” during a Congressional hearing back in 2015.
The USS Gerald R. Ford completed acceptance trials on May 26 and will be active in the fleet this summer. However, it won’t be operational until 2020. It is expected to be in service for 50 years.