The United States Navy received the most powerful addition yet to its fleet of aircraft supercarriers Thursday, the USS Gerald R. Ford.
After 12 years of construction and $12.9 billion, the new carrier was delivered to the Navy from Newport News Shipbuilding on Thursday morning. 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 Navyâ€™s crisis response, deterrence, power projection and striking capabilities.
According to the Navy, the newest supercarrier, which went $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 Navyâ€™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 â€œcenterpiece of the forces necessary for operating forward.â€
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 â€œwe simply cannot afford to pay $12.9B for a single ship,â€ during a Congressional hearing back in 2015.
President Donald Trump also said in an interview with Time Magazine last month that he wanted the Navy to use steam for catapults to improve both functionality and cost-efficiency.
â€œâ€™You going to goddamned steam, the digital costs hundreds of millions of dollars more money and itâ€™s no good,â€™â€ Trump claimed he told Naval leaders in the interview.
The USS Gerald R. Ford completed acceptance trials on May 26 and will be active in the fleet this summer. However, it wonâ€™t be operational until 2020. It is expected to be in service for 50 years.