Navy Christens New Ford-Class Aircraft Carrier

Navy Christens New Ford-Class Aircraft Carrier

The U.S. Navy christened its newest aircraft carrier over the weekend, an estimated $14 billion warship set to enter service in 2016.

The USS Gerald R. Ford is the first redesigned carrier in four decades and the first in a new class of ships that will replace the 10-ship Nimitz class launched in 1972, according to the service.

It’s named after the former president, who served in the Navy during World War II, spent time aboard the light carrier USS Monterey and attained the rank of lieutenant commander, according to a press release from the service.

His daughter, Susan Ford Bales, christened the carrier by striking a bottle of champagne across the bow during a ceremony Nov. 9 at the Newport News, Va., shipyard of the manufacturer, Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc., according to the release.

In a final letter before his death, Ford wrote to then-Navy Secretary Donald Winter, “Thus, it is a great source of pride and humility to know that an aircraft carrier bearing my name will be forever connected with the valor and patriotic service of men and women of the United States Navy,” Bales said, according to the release.

The carrier is designed to last 50 years and includes such improvements as an electromagnetic catapult to launch aircraft, a pair of more powerful nuclear reactors allowing for longer deployments, a flight deck that can accommodate dozens more sorties per day, a dual-band radar, and even larger water storage tanks so sailors can take longer showers.

The enhancements are designed to allow air wings to operate with fewer personnel by relying on systems that require less maintenance. The upgrades have come at a cost, though. The Ford is more than $2 billion over budget.

The Navy plans to spend about $1.7 billion in fiscal 2014, which began Oct. 1, on the program to build new carriers. The money will fund the second year of construction for the USS John F. Kennedy, so-called completion costs for the Ford and ongoing development of ship systems, according to Pentagon budget documents.

The Ford class “will be the premier forward asset for crisis response and early decisive striking power in a major combat operation,” according to the documents.

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Those with any common sense knows that in order to maintain a more modern military these days will be at a higher cost.
I don’t mind seeing a portion of my tax money going to build newer,better ships and planes. At least I can see the benefits and what I am getting for my money ‚where as I don’t see anything but wasted taxpayer money on others Government programs. The only draw back is the fact that budgeting should be much better. It is not uncommon to go over budget but
2 billion over is a bit out of line. Maybe some type of penalties should be in place to curtail this.

The Navy has never built a ship on budget. Unrealistic cost estimates. Optimistic engineering assumptions. Unproven technology. The Navy even has a $300 million a year line in their shipbuilding budget to cover all the cost overruns.

Can we rename this Carrier name her Enterprise and scrap naming the Carrier after a Presidents. Prefer to see another USS Yorktown and USS Essex too.

What about USS Hu Jintao?

To last 50 years? Hypersonic aircrafts as the Son of the Blackbird will make it obsolete in a decade or two. The carriers have to be retired.

What is the US Navy like without a Ship named EnterPrize

Not worried about the name. We still have more carriers than everyone else combined.

If we had one carrier and named it the Enterprise, it would not be any better.

Indeed. The BB’s proved they could last decades; so long as nobody hit them with dive bombers, torpedo bombers or anti-ship missiles.

If the Navy had entered WW2 with railguns instead of 16-mile range weapons, we’d probably still be using them. But they didn’t; and the aircraft turned out to strike lethally from farther away.

What is the BB’s?

The most highly decorated ship in the 200+ years of US NAVY„„is the USS ENTERPRISE. IT’s not even close. To be naming a ship after a loser like FORD? Really? Can you folks see the day…the USS OBAMA?

Want a Stunning fact? On the Date she was retired the USS ENTERRPISE was still the fastest ship in the Navy. BIG “E” set every record, and stills hold them as she is towed to an Alabama scrap yard to be chopped up.

I think the 2016 in service time is an unrealistic goal considering all the untested systems that are on this ship. Then there is the other issues that have started to plague the Navy regarding new ship construction. USS Freedom being an example of a ship built to fight, but not able to perform as expected and having major issues. Then there is the UAV being developed and testing for carrier deployment, won’t be long before modern technology makes the carrier something of the past.

Uh, the Ex Enterprise is sitting at NNSB, awaiting defueling, then will go to PSNY for final disposal.

One of the biggest issues with the this carrier is that they laid the keel even before the new technologies were proven. The EMALS catapult was goo in theory but never proven. As some of the other technologies and radar on board. Whenever you deal with new stuff like that there is an upfront cost. But, if you look at the maintenance and equipment savings over the life of the ship, I am sure that is more than pays for itself and probably a good bit of savings. Steam catapults are a cost and maintenance hog, plain and simple.

Don’t forget about the USS Zumwalt, DDG-1000, another prototype ship. Awesome looking though.

…Yorktown ended up as one of the Aegeis class,Essex is/was either Tarawa or Wasp class LHA , and there is a petition to name the 3rd Ford-class Enterprise. Btw,we got the steam cats from the Brits, who may end up using the
Emals on a future Queen class carrier…

Actually, steam cats were invented by the Germans, who, I believe, planned to install them on their one and only WW2 aircraft carrier.

USS Essex is long taken.

It is currently a LHD filled with Marines.

Just got out of drydock in San Diego.

“The enhancements are designed to allow air wings to operate with fewer personnel by relying on systems that require less maintenance.”

Whereas in reality, air wings will operate with fewer personnel because of the reliance on the F-35, which costs more than twice as much as originally claimed it would cost.

Seriously, while people are expressing outrage that the numbers of deployable CVN are likely to shrink sharply, even if those cutbacks were not happening, the F-35 cost disaster is such that filling all the big decks would be infeasible anyway. This will have consequences down the road, none of them good.

It is official that the third Ford-class carrier, CVN-80, will be named ENTERPRISE.

Really, can you back this up Taxpayer
I seem recall that the Virginia class sub are coming in under budget and under deadline

Here’s a little “history” about some other famous Navy ships you may not have heard about ;-P

about the USS Biden, a ship that couldn’t do anything and had a constant case of stuck rudder, it could only go in circles

the USS Oblamer, it’s was a peer “queen” and blames the USS Bush for all it is shortcomings

the USS Pelosi which sunk on it’s first day at sea in sea state 1

the USS Harry Reed was bought by the the N.Koreans to use as training ship

the USS Hillary which ran into a reef and was wrecked but repeated over and over “what difference does it make”

Now, but they started out a billion over projections so they are actually still more expensive than originally estimated. With the exception of the T-AE and maybe the DDG-51 class (so in other words, ships with largely no new technology) the USN has had a horrible track record of cost estimating all the way back to the post-WWII era.

The Navy is only going to get 420 F-35Cs to replace the legacy (A-D model) Hornet. If we cannot afford that we are either horribly incompetent or horribly stupid. From a design standpoint the F-35 shouldn’t be horribly expensive to build or operate when compared to some of the larger aircraft the Navy has operated in the past.

I can’t wait to see it operate. Stuff like this fascinate me, it’s.…progress.


IIRC, BB more or less translates as “Battleship”

And of course the new carrier came in way overbudget. Competence is not a characteristic of our government.

Weapon systems developed today are not necessisarly needed to replace what we already have in inventory. However, in order to appease the lobbyiests of big defense contractors, with the complicity of Pentagon Generals and Admirals, along with Senartors that are “in the pocket”, new systems are always being proposed and purchased.
The A-10 Warthog is a great example of a weapons system that does a job no otter aircraft can match, yet it is on the chopping block to be replaced by the single-engine F-35 that is supposed to be the “all plane for all purposes”. No one is making any money on the A-10 so its time to replace it with a weapons system that makes money for those involved in it. This is what our Department of Defense has become, a huge overnment bureacracy that has lost sight of its true mission. It simply exists as an organization that gets allocated huge sums of money to be pissed away on weapons programs that aren’t needed to fight an enemy that will never exist. Cmmon sense doesn’t exist in that agency and never will.

Absolutely not true. During WW II 24 submarines were built in Manitowoc, WI. They came in under budget and ahead of time.…

Looks like catapult technology was compressed air, then hydraulic, then steam

No defense contractor ever won an award by being pessimistic in his cost estimates.

It stands to reason that something as complex as an aircraft carrier or super fighter such as the F-35 will run into technical problems during its development. Defense engineers use their best knowledge to respond to and evaluate proposals, but there will almost always been unforeseen incidents popping up. Only when an item goes into mass production are these glitches finally resolved. And even then, one will still pop up on occasion. As an example, look at automobile recalls.

No other nation in the world has more than one aircraft carrier. How many do we already have? And should we keep on building more just to preserve shipyard jobs? Had we done that at the end of WW II, Boeing would still be turning out B-17 bombers.

How about the Ranger and the Hornet?

What about Coral Sea CVA 43?

William, it is an illusion to think the Navy will be buying 420 F-35Cs. Label it with the adjective of your choice, but they haven’t the funding necessary to buy anywhere near that number, and they’re not going to get it, at least not without canceling some other programs.
My hypothesis is 240: 20 sqdns of 10 a/c (2 for each CVN), plus 40 for training sqdn and attrition a/c. The necessary budget may be available if they purchase the bulk of them far enough down the price curve.
This doesn’t include the F-35B quantity.


I agree 100%. I would rather have smaller ships names after politicians and the largest capital ships named after more meaningful and sacred references to national security, such as a USS Arlington, New York City, or Somerset aircraft carrier.

same can be said about Enterprise and we all know that worked out pretty darn well for 51 years.

They’ve been saying that since the end of WWII but they come in pretty handy when you need them, don’t they?

If i remember correctly, In the Call of Duty Black Ops game, There is a carrier that gets attacked called the Obama.

Thank you. I am always lost with the abbreviations.

But tomorrow may be a war against a major power and America will lose a couple of aircraft carriers in a burst. I hope that the transition takes place peacefully. The carriers are too vulnerable.

Enterprise was meant to be a class of six carriers, but was a one-off until the first Nimitz was completed.

Navy got stung by the initial costs of the first nuclear-powered carrier, and this was after they’d gotten their feet wet on ground nuclear reactors and nuclear-powered submarines. The steam catapult used was likely proven in other CV’s first.

EMALS was probably tested in ground mounts, and it’ll be time to test in shipboard use soon. I wonder how much it would cost to refit EMALS to a Nimitz in RCOH. The Lincoln will be unavailable for three years…I wonder if that’d be enough time to try.


It looks more Nimitz than Ford…

I agree. Did not agree with naming carriers after presidents when proposed and should return to naming after famous places and battles. I served on the USS Lake Champlain CVS39.

Many of these comments are a bit naive, the aircraft carrier cannot be replaced with any number of hypersonic aircraft. It is a floating airport, and sovereign US territory. A single plane or even squadron can be taken out with impunity, but if you attack a carrier, you attack the US directly, and have the pleasure of immediate response.
How many Marines does the Hyperplane carry? Can it refuel, reload and attack in less than an hour? If shot down can it be replaced by the ready launch within minutes? How many Tomahawks, can it carry? If shot down, how far away are the rescue swimmers? Will the crew receive medical attention within the Golden Hour?
If the carrier is obsolete, then why are China and other potential enemies building their own fleets?

I understand that it is hard to believe that the cost is minimal compared to so many other defense expenditures, and the cost overrun is usually attributed to addons after the initial build budget approval. But in the long term, carriers are a bargain.
Changes are disruptive, and time consuming, therefore adding to the final cost, if “Congress” actually stuck with a build plan, the final cost would come in under budget.
As far as the name, these portable pieces of sovereign US territory should bear the name of our honored presidents.
I served in the US Navy from 80 through 90, both Brown shoe and Black. Taught warfare, and opposition strength and weakness to our combat crews and NATO as well, so I do know what I am talking about.
I can’t say I appreciate much of what is going on in our leadership today, but I am comforted by the development of this new class of carrier, for the weapons she will have to defend against are state of the art and deadly, and it was realized the old birdfarms weren’t up to the task.

We all have a right to express our opinions, this is still America, but maybe we should do a little research instead of knee jerk reactions in our public comments.
God bless us all.

When the CVN 65 Enterprise was decomissioned recently there was a promise that one of the future Ford class carriers will be named Enterprise (CVN 80). I feel that Enterprise is the most proud name of any carrier, especially CV 6 in WW II. It was the most decorated ship of the war (20 Battlestars) and I’m proud to have an Uncle that earned a Bronze Star while serving on CV 6.

Of course a hypersonic plane can’t be shot down. Just like the Titanic was unsinkable. Just like the U-2 would fly so high that the USSR could not shoot it down. I’m USAF retired but I do realize that carriers are very much a part of the future since it does bring so much capabilities to a theater of war (or humanitarian mission or any other type of mission).

A smaller navy made up of expensive ships isn’t a good strategy.

We tried to get her named AMERICA so we would have the AMERICA class of carrier, but no. Politics. Next will be John F. Kennedy, then ENTERPRISE. If we have the funding.

I can; a garbage scow.

CVN-80 will be named the USS Enterprise. This has been officially announced.

Everyone keep their panties on. The 3rd Ford ship (CVN-80) will be named USS Enterprise. This has already been officially announced.

Better to lose a couple of hypersonic unmanned planes than a couple of floating cities aircraft carriers. Better dispersion than concentration.

Of course rail-gun cats will enable longer showers, though I suspect DuffelBlog will have something to say about this.

I’ve found most people who say that know little about the USN the carriers and what all have been built to withstand.

A carrier is a part of a CSG. It comes with a massive airwing, Huge AA and every other defensive measure.

Oh and the super missiles? Go read what the Russian ships carried. Basically we have been preparing for that.

I don’t believe USS Obama is anything I will live to see–Thank God.

This question in itself proves your incompetence.

There is A USS America, and it’s an aircraft carrier. LHA-6, check her out on this new thing called the internet

Right. I do not know most of the abbreviations.

Same stupid mindset that took the guns out of Aircraft. We paid the price for that in Vietnam. Carriers are not just useful as fighting ships but also a great deterrent to those who would do us harm. Physical presence can never be replaced.

Submarines are the answer. Take the money we spend on super carriers and invest in submarines. The deterant of a submarine far outweighs that of a carrier. I was a submariner for 10 years, from 64 to 74, during the cold war. We WON.

1. You have a spectrum of ships, so the replacement of a carrier by a submarine makes no sense, although you have to decide how much of each.
2. Cost over-runs, as said earlier, come with such projects, not out of incompetence or fraud or …: Costs are usually underestimated on big projects, capabilities are over-specified, innovations are always risky but worth trying, and it’s not only proposed changes but discoveries along the way that changes are necessary. If it is $2 billion for a $14 billion ship, that’s 15%, and that is small for most such projects. Whether the ship should cost so much I leave to others.
3.The real problem is the vulnerability to attack: Nuclear bombing it in the ocean might well be appealing to an enemy, since it is likely far from where their people are, and the lots of the radioactivity will go down and be absorbed by the water. Conventional weapons would also be effective. So the carrier needs good defensive capability, very good. I don’t know if that is possible now.
4. You name ships to get Congress to go along, Hence Republicans get Reagan and Ford, Democrats get Kennedy…

Can’t wait for my grandchildren to serve on the USS Bobo…

I served between 1954 and 1975 on the Forrestal, Essex, Midway, JFK, and the Ranger. I spent 21 years as ships company and operating in the Air Wing with AD-6, F-9, F-2H, F-8U, F-7, A-7, F-4, A-6, A-J, A-4, A-7, F-3 and a host of other aircraft. If you haven’t been there, you have no idea of the power and efficiency of a Navy crew on an aircraft carrier. From the Suez Canal Conflict, the Lebanon Invasion, the Cuban Crisis and Viet Nam, we were the deterrent against any enemy who stepped in our way. None of you Pundits are old enough to have seen these carriers in action. The speed that we could launch an attack, recover and launch again was mind blowing. Plus, we had an ace-in-the hole; the ability to deliver a nuclear weapon almost anywhere, if necessary.

I believe that this Carrier will turn out to be a good investment. People say that we already have 10 Carriers and we don’t need anymore, well maybe, BUT this particular class of Carriers will be more efficient and need fewer people to operate. I do believe we need new ships, as long as they are great weapons platforms. We need to replace ships that need a lot of support ships and a big crew to maintain with ships that are faster, easier to operate and have greater firepower.
Once the USS Ford is operational, bring in the USS Reagan and refit it with the same Tech as the USS Ford has. And YES build a lot more Fast Attach Subs.

How about CVN-81 being the USS Lexington?

We will probably also need to bring back support ships of some kind or another. In WW2 we were able to deploy mobile drydocks on atolls and island bays of our choosing. Now we have to contract out a ship-carrier to bring a crippled frigate or destroyer all the way home. Not an option in wartime.

We also dropped destroyer and submarine tenders and no reliable means to reload VLS at sea. Building a ship to do so isn’t in the cards either…I suppose a catamaran would be a stable platform to load VLS cells with.

In short, almost every russian ship bigger than a destroyer carried a handful of very large missiles, usually with nuclear warheads. Even their aviation cruisers (like the Kiev-class) had a shorted flight deck and carried a complement of missiles and torpedoes. No illusions about naval aviation, just lots of missiles.

The Russians built everything around taking out carriers. The Shkval’s nuclear warhead was also intended to be fired into a carrier.

China isn’t the first nation to plan for taking out American CV’s; and won’t be the last.

Deterrent’s expensive. The Philippines was supposed to deter Japan. Instead, the better part of a small army was trapped far from home and destroyed with little gain to the United States.

In conventional mythology, it is taught that the stubborn defense of the Philippines bought time for action elsewhere. In practice, the IJN’s carriers were free to act regardless of the fate of the Philippines, but the untimely delays took manpower from Malaya the rest of SE Asia (which they were able to defeat anyways with the delays).

Indeed, it wouldn’t be bad if we still had a civilian shipbuilding industry. Every ship we build is pretty much just American merchant marine and military, which has to affect our ability to use economies of scale and the labor pool (let alone the expert labor pool).

Thus illustrating the dangers of open-ended terms like “never”

However, bad cost estimates even go back to the First Six Frigates of 1794.

“The earlier predictions of Henry Knox regarding costs of the frigates came to a head in early 1797. Of the original appropriation of $688,888.82, only about $24,000 remained. Secretary of War James McHenry requested of Congress an additional $200,000, but only $172,000 was appropriated. The additional funds were enough to finish the three frigates’ construction, but did not allow them to be manned and put to sea.“
~Wikipedia, citing “The Congress founds the Navy, 1787–1798″

Again, one could argue novel R&D (new frigate design) and not going COTS (not simply building “normal” frigates or arming merchant vessels) cost Congress more than anticipated. Plus the idea of dispersing manufacturing to six different sites and insisting on live oak.

USS Nancy Pelosi CV-1369
need I say more?

Yes!!!!! Something like, I have no idea what I am talking about. They don’t make “CV” anymore. They are “CVN”. Do you even know what either means?

You SIR are a true hero. Thank you for your service. Those are some storied ships. I served on the Lincoln. While I don’t think all carriers should bear the name of Presidents, the USS Abraham Lincoln CVN 72 is a great name and I am so proud to have served on her.

Too many people keep forgetting this.

Thanks blight.

24 LCS v. 1 CVN…I’ll take the Bird Farm.

Those that know HOW these subs are constructed, realize that 100’s of millions could be saved if we stopped this one boat-two shipyard madness!

I like “Ranger”!!!!

1st: POTUS Ford was no loser, he served his country with pride & honor in uniform. 2nd: He was a respected member of the Congress through-out his entire career. 3rd: If he hadn’t pardoned Nixon, (basically ending the Watergate nightmare) he most probably would have bested POTUS Carter in the election..what a thought???

Its what POTUS Ike warned us all about…ehhh??

THIS is where I want my tax money to go, toward our defense; not toward paying for 8 cell phones, GIVEN to increasing numbers of people too lazy to work and buy their own, so they can sell them along with their EBT cards for cash.

Gee, we have the USS OBAMA to look forward to, pardon me while I retch.

Come, on, if you served for 10 years you must realize the two classes of warships have different tactical and strategic missions. We absolutely need both, along with a variety of other vessels. You are proud of your service and I applaude that along with the role sub-surface warfare played. At the same time, nothing as complex as defeatind world communism is due to one weapons delivery system. And, I suggest that the cold war is not over, just the adversaries we face have changed, and that only to some extent.

Yes, deterrent’s expensive, but the alternative is war.

I agree that otters cannot make aircraft anywhere as good as the A-10. In the next otter versus warthog confrontation, the otters are doomed.

I am far more upset but the idea of a USS Clinton.

When we listen to the news reports about that ship we won’t be able to tell if anything we hear is true.

All of the military actions carried out by the USS Clinton will be “for the children.”

I think you missed his point.

And, the contraction of “you are” is “you’re.”

This is as close to an internet IQ test as we have today.

President Ford is also responsible for this famous quote that many credit President Jefferson for:

If the government is big enough to give you everything you want, it is big enough to take away everything you have. ~ President Jerald R. Ford

Add Website development to the Incompetence list!!! ;-)

I agree with you Headhunter. As a person who has been on the inside of the service, your insights are invaluable. As a former soldier, I spend a lot of time trying to explain to folks who “haven’t been there” how things are run. If the people who are so critical about carriers bother to look at the history of international events, carriers have, in many instances, kept situations from becoming full fledged conflicts requiring troop deployments, air wing re-deployments & other costly as well as time consuming shuffling of military resources. I’m glad that they are still around.

I can understand how you feel about the ENTERPRISE name as it dates back to the era of sails. Here’s something that you need to understand though; regardless of how you feel about Ford, he was a Navy man. The tradition of naming carriers after presidents was mainly based on naval service but also included those that had a major contribution to the Navy way of life ( helping to procure a major weapons system as an example). Why else would you have a carrier named Ronald Reagan?

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