The US Navy’s first Gerald R Ford-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, pre-commissioning unit (PCU) Gerald R Ford (CVN 78), has achieved a pre-delivery milestone with the completion of its turn ship evolution.

The vessel was moved from its pier for the first time after it was rolled out of the dry dock in November 2013.

PCU Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) commanding officer captain Richard McCormack said: "Turning the ship is an opportunity for the crew to demonstrate for the first time all the procedures required to get the ship underway safely.

"It is a massive undertaking that requires teamwork, coordination and precision."

"Our new pier position will allow the ship and shipyard team to complete the remaining pierside testing required before our upcoming sea trials."

During the turn ship evolution, a ‘Sally test’ was conducted, which involved precision draft readings to confirm that there is adequate stability for safe underway operations at sea.

Commenting on the milestone, Newport News Shipbuilding construction supervisor Shayne Laws said: "It is a massive undertaking that requires teamwork, coordination and precision.

"From the shipbuilders and sailors on board the ship to the team of tugboats helping in the water, this evolution was a success due to the hard work of everyone involved."

The 1,092ft-long Gerald R Ford is fitted with Raytheon-built evolved Sea Sparrow missiles (ESSM), which will enable the warship to combat high-speed, highly manoeuvrable, anti-ship missiles, and a rolling airframe missile (RAM) close-in weapon system.

PCU Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) is scheduled for delivery and commissioning later this year.

The second Ford-class warship, USS John F Kennedy (CVN 79), will enter service in 2020.

Image: Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) is manoeuvred by tug boats in the James River. Photo: courtesy of US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Gitte Schirrmacher/Released.