Huntington Ingalls Industries' (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) division has christened the US Navy's first Gerald R Ford-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, Gerald R Ford (CVN 78), during a ceremony in Newport News, Virginia, US.
The aircraft carrier has been named to honour the 38th president of the US who also attained the rank of lieutenant commander in the navy, serving on the light carrier USS Monterey (CVL-26) during World War II.
US senator for Michigan Carl Levin said the aircraft will support in times of crisis, and will also be comfort in times of disaster and grief.
The ship will feature a new nuclear power plant, a redesigned island, electromagnetic catapults, enhanced weapons movement, an improved flight deck capable of increased aircraft sortie rates, and growth margin for future technologies and reduced manning.
NNS president Matt Mulherin said: "When USS Gerald R. Ford joins the Navy's fleet in 2016, she will reign as America's queen of the seas for 50 years."
Scheduled to be delivered to the US Navy in 2016, the 1,092ft-long Gerald R Ford will have a beam of 134ft and can arm, refuel, launch and recover aircraft quickly.
The Ford-class carriers, which will replace Nimitz-class aircraft carriers for the US Navy, will be armed with the Raytheon-evolved Sea Sparrow missile (ESSM) to strike against high-speed, highly manoeuvrable anti-ship missiles, as well as a rolling airframe missile (RAM) close-in weapon system.
Designed with significant quality-of-life improvements and reduced maintenance, the Ford-class ships are expected to enhance operational availability and capabi.lity as well as reduce total ownership cost by $4bn compared with the Nimitz-class carriers.
The 100,000t Ford-class ships will be capable of operating up to 90 aircraft, which include the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft, MH-60R/S helicopters and unmanned air vehicles and unmanned combat air vehicles.
Image: Officials christen Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) during a ceremony at Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding. Photo: courtesy of US Navy.