Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Norfolk, VA, United States (4E) – President Donald Trump will take another welcome break from the chaos engulfing his administration when he travels to the Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia on July 22 to commission the U.S. Navy’s newest aircraft carrier and the largest warship in the world — the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78).
He’s expected to once again boast about his role in boosting the Navy’s fleet to 350 ships from the current 276 deployed today. It will be Trump’s first commissioning of a navy warship as president.
The $12.9 billion warship, which displaces over 100,000 tons, is the lead ship in a new class of nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and the first totally new aircraft carrier design in four decades. Apart from the Ford, the other two carriers in the Gerald R. Ford-class are the USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) and the USS Enterprise (CVN-80). Both these warships are building.
The Ford is equipped with a nuclear power plant three times more powerful than those aboard the Navy’s 10 Nimitz-class aircraft carriers. The Ford’s tremendous power reserve will allow it to be armed with future weapons like directed-energy lasers and electromagnetic railguns.
Her commissioning will give the Navy 11 operational nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, the largest number of carriers in active service with any country. Ford will also be the most technologically advanced aircraft carrier in the world.
She will be the first carrier to deploy unmanned aerial systems (UAS) for reconnaissance and attack as a standard complement.
Ford will be the first to deploy new technologies such the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) to launch its aircraft and the Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) to recover them. Her AN/SPY-3 active electronically scanned array multi-function radar is effective in both blue water and littoral operations.
She can carry over 75 fixed wing and rotary aircraft and a crew of some 4,500 persons.
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