The US Navy has christened its newest Gerald R Ford-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier John F Kennedy (CVN 79) during a ceremony at Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding division.

The christening ceremony of the Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) John F Kennedy was attended by more than 20,000 members.

CVN 79 is named in honour of former US President John F Kennedy for his contribution to the country and the US Navy.

It is the second aircraft carrier to be named after Kennedy, who served as the 35th President of the US.

The ship is sponsored by Caroline Bouvier Kennedy, who is the daughter of John Kennedy. Caroline Kennedy was posted as the US Ambassador to Japan from 2013 to 2017.

Retired US Marine Corps major general and former Nasa administrator Charles Bolden said: “This vessel is a symbol of our nation’s strength, technical achievement and critical service our men and women provide for this nation and the entire world.

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“This incredible ship before us today serves as the biggest instrument of deterrence and carries our nation’s pride and hope for a better world.”

The first steel of the aircraft carrier was cut in 2011. Construction of the ship involved over 5,000 shipbuilders and suppliers from 46 states across the US.

HII noted that the PCU John F Kennedy will be launched into the James River and moved to a pier in the coming weeks.

The ship will undergo further outfitting and testing. The Newport News division is expected to deliver CVN 79 to the navy in 2022.