On 22 July, the U.S. Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), was officially commissioned into service. Displacing some 100,000 tons, the 1,092-foot warship has a beam of 134-feet with a flight deck width of 256 feet. The crew is expected to number roughly 4,500 personnel including the air wing and staff. Two A1B nuclear reactors and four shafts power the carrier to a top speed of more than 30 knots. The Ford is expected to boost sortie generation rates by 33 percent over Nimitz-class carriers. Other improvements include a new dual band radar, electromagnetic aircraft launch system, and advanced arresting gear. The Ford will be able to carry an air wing of more than 75 aircraft. At least two additional sisters, to be named the John F. Kennedy and the Enterprise, are planned for service by the late 2020s.
By Eric Wertheim