It took the hands of 5,000 shipbuilders, 200,000 gallons of paint and four million pounds of weld metal to construct the 90,000-ton USS Gerald R. Ford, America’s newest aircraft carrier, and officially the most expensive boat the world has ever seen.
The warship had a final price tag of nearly $13 billion. But don’t fret too much, the Navy will save $4 billion over the ship’s 50-year lifetime due to reduced maintenance requirements.
Named after former president Gerald Ford, who served on an aircraft carrier during World War II, the vessel is just the latest and greatest representation of the future of U.S. military power. It is the most technologically advanced warship ever constructed, and the first new design of a carrier since the Nimitz-class, first commissioned in 1975.
“She is more automated, is easier to maintain, and is able to launch missions faster than any previous carrier,” according to Huntington Ingalls, a military shipbuilding company that built the USS Gerald R. Ford.
The ship is expected to go through sea trials in a few weeks and will be commissioned this summer, a Navy official revealed to The Daily Brief. The ship will be the mobile home of approximately 4,500 sailors, 700 fewer than a typical carrier.
One of the elements that makes the Ford special is its power system — it will have more electrical power generation, replacing the regular steam catapult system that’s currently in use. Huntington Ingalls said the ship is equipped with two newly-designed reactors and has 250 percent more electrical capacity than previous carriers.
“The Gerald R. Ford-class will be the premier forward asset for crisis response and early decisive striking power in a major combat operation,” according to the Navy’s website. “Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers and carrier strike groups will provide the core capabilities of forward presence, deterrence, sea control, power projection, maritime security and humanitarian assistance. The class brings improved warfighting capability, quality of life improvements for our Sailors and reduced total ownership costs.”
But the construction and launching of the Ford is only the beginning — next in line to be assembled are the USS John F. Kennedy and a new version of the USS Enterprise.