President Donald Trump was on hand Saturday at Naval Station Norfolk to help commission the first in a new class of aircraft carrier: the USS Gerald R. Ford.
The Ford class is the first new design for a carrier in more than 40 years and sets the stage for a phased replacement of the Nimitz class.
The Ford class will include two more planned ships, the John F. Kennedy and Enterprise. While the carriers’ technical specifications will be similar to their Nimitz counterparts, there are many improvements aimed at increasing their combat capabilities.
— The island (the ship’s command center) is smaller and located further to the back, or aft, of the ship, giving more space for flight-deck operations and opportunities to launch more sorties a day.
— Steam-powered systems have been replaced with electric-drive components, including an electromagnetic-powered launch aircraft system.
— The ships are expected to go longer between maintenance sessions.
— The Advanced Arresting Gear system allows the ships to recover a broader range of aircraft.
— Quality of life enhancements for crew members include better berthing compartments, gyms and work spaces.