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US Navy commissions new Ford-class nuke-powered aircraft carrier

Sailors man the rails of aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) during its commissioning ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia. A US Navy photo

WASHINGTON (BNS): US President Donald J Trump has commissioned the US Navy's newest aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), at a commissioning ceremony held at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia on July 22.

Trump landed on the carrier's flight deck in Marine One helicopter and was greeted by Secretary of Defence 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.

"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," the President remarked.

USS Gerald R. Ford is the lead ship in the Ford-class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, the first new class in the US Navy in more than 40 years, and will begin the phased replacement of Nimitz-class carriers.

Construction of the advanced warship started in 2008, and it was christened in November 2013 amidst major cost overruns and delivery delays.

The platform, built by Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) at a cost of US$ 12.9 billion, will be followed by the 'John F Kennedy' and 'Enterprise' carriers which are expected to be commissioned in the next decade. 

Flaunting a new design, the aircraft carrier is equipped with an array of advanced technology and systems, including a new electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS), two main turbine generators, new radar system, and advanced weapons elevators. Its enhanced flight deck design allows up to 25 per cent more sorties for fighter jets and helicopters on board.

The warship, however, is unlikely to be deployed in service any time soon as it is required to undergo at least four more years of trials to validate its various systems, including the launch of fighter aircraft from its flight deck, according to a recent US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

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