USS Gerald R. Ford To Be Christened Saturday

(THE DETROIT NEWS 07 NOV 13) … David Shepardson

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Navy will christen its newest aircraft carrier named after Michigan’s only president, Gerald R. Ford, on Saturday in Virginia.

The ceremony will take place at the Huntington-Ingalls Industries Newport News shipyard in southern Virginia.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Susan Ford Bales, daughter of the 38th president, will serve as the ship’s sponsor, break a Champagne bottle against a plate welded to the hull and officially christen the ship Gerald R. Ford.

The ship was ordered in September 2008.

The Gerald R. Ford, designated CVN 78, honors the late president who guided the nation through the end of the Vietnam War. Ford, who was named by President Richard Nixon as vice president after Spiro Agnew resigned, was a former Michigan congressman from Grand Rapids. Ford served aboard the USS Monterey in the Pacific during World War II, and was the first president to serve aboard an aircraft carrier.

“The christening of USS Gerald R. Ford marks an important milestone in both the life of this ship and the development of our future fleet, a fleet built on the innovation that makes our Navy and Marine Corps team the finest expeditionary fighting force the world has ever known,” said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.

The ship is the lead ship of the Gerald R. Ford class, the first new aircraft carrier design in more than 40 years. The Gerald R. Ford class will eventually replace all Nimitz-class aircraft carriers. The Ford class is designed to provide increased war fighting capability with approximately 700 fewer crew members.

Each ship in the new class will save $4 billion in total ownership costs during its 50-year service life, compared to the Nimitz-class, the Navy says.

Ford will be the first aircraft carrier to deploy with the electromagentic aircraft launching system, advanced arresting gear, dual-band radar and all-electric auxiliaries.

Gerald R. Ford is designed for a 50-year service life with one mid-life refueling complex overhaul.

“Improvements in the ship design will allow the embarked air wing to operate with 663 fewer personnel,” the Navy said. “Technologies and ship design initiatives that replace maintenance-intensive systems with low maintenance systems are expected to reduce watch standing and maintenance workload for the crew. Gerald R. Ford is the first aircraft carrier designed with all electric utilities, eliminating steam service lines from the ship, reducing maintenance requirements and improving corrosion control efforts.”

The event will be webcast at

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