CVN-78 Gerald Ford
On 22 July 2017 Donald Trump and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis took part in commissioning the USS Gerald R. Ford, the Navy's newest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, named in honor of the 38th president, in Norfolk, Virginia. Ford is expected to be in operation in 2020.
The Gerald R. Ford class is the future aircraft carrier replacement class for Enterprise and Nimitz class aircraft carriers. GERALD R. FORD (CVN 78) was ordered from Newport News Shipbuilding on Sept. 10, 2008. The USS Ford began construction in 2009 and was launched four years later on November 9, 2013. As of 2012 the schedule to deliver the ship had slipped from September 2015 to March 2016.
On 08 February 2017, officials announced that the supercarrier is “99 percent” complete. According to reports, engineers have made "significant progress resolving first-of-class issues associated with these critical systems" that "enables [the Navy] to forecast our sea trials and delivery schedule," stated Navy spokesman Capt. Thurraya Kent. Sea trials will be conducted by the shipbuilder in March. Barring surprises that could again push the deployment schedule of the USS Gerald R. Ford back, the Navy will complete 'acceptance trials' in April, before formal delivery the same month.
The original delivery date was September 2015. The Navy has made "significant progress" on the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford and the first-in-class ship could be delivered in April, a Navy spokeswoman said 11 January 2017. The Navy scheduled sea trials in March and April, said Capt. Thurraya Kent. Delivery to the Navy would take place in April, pending the results of sea trials. Newport News Shipbuilding issued a statement 12 January 2017 in reaction to the Navy's announcent on the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford: "As the Navy recently stated, significant progress in resolving first-of-class issues have been made on Gerald R. Ford and we have resumed critical path testing in support of sea trials readiness. We remain focused on achieving our milestones of builder's sea trials, acceptance trials, and delivery as quickly and efficiently as possible."
The Gerald R. Ford class will be the premier forward asset for crisis response and early decisive striking power in a major combat operation. 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.
The lead ship of the CVN-21 class, designated CVN-78, is intended to eventually replace the USS Enterprise. Most of the recently retired aircraft carriers bore the names of famous warships [Constellation, Ranger] or battles [Saratoga, Lexington]. Some older aircraft carrier names have been applied to amphibious assault ships: Kearsarge, Bonhomme Richard, Essex, Wasp.
More than 100 Sailors from the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) attended a special ribbon-cutting ceremony, 15 May 2013, to officially establish the crew of the first Ford class aircraft carrier and open the building where they will work while the ship is constructed. "The Shipyard and the crew decided to have a turnover and an official ceremony to stand up PCU Ford. As our first official function as a crew, we wanted this ceremony to help us say 'we are a crew'," said Cmdr. Robert Kurz, Combat Systems Officer. "The Commanding Officer just arrived back from school as did our Executive Officer, and we have a total of 170 Sailors onboard at this time, so manning is extremely minimal."
With the strike of a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow by the ship's sponsor, the Navy christened its newest aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), the lead ship of the new Gerald R. Ford class, 09 November 2013, in a ceremony at Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va. Susan Ford Bales, Ford's daughter and the ship's sponsor, had the honor of christening the ship in front of more than 20,000 Sailors, shipbuilders and civilians, bringing to life the Navy's newest aircraft carrier design in more than 40 years. "I christen thee United States Ship Gerald R. Ford," said Bales, breaking the bottle across the bow. "May God bless all those who sail in her."
More than 2,000 PCU Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Sailors participated in the ship's first fast cruise exercise, 3-5 May 2016, in Newport News, Virginia. A fast cruise is a simulated underway, designed to prepare the crew for life at sea and get them in an operational mindset. The exercise is geared toward preparing Sailors for future deployments.
"This exercise is a good starting point for them to understand the rhythm of an underway ship," said Command Master Chief Donnie Novak. "When leadership speaks about being underway or pulling into port, the scenario becomes more real to the junior Sailors, many of whom have never been underway. Now that they've had a taste, it builds confidence, builds camaraderie, and makes them rely more on themselves and their shipmates." General quarters, man overboard, and abandon ship drills were all-hands evolutions that tested the proficiency of the entire crew, while major departments such as Engineering, Deck, Air, and Navigation used the opportunity to stand up full watch teams, simulate air transfer requests and set material conditions.
Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) completed its turn ship evolution 11 June 2016. This was a major milestone that brings the country's newest nuclear powered aircraft carrier another step closer to delivery and commissioning later this year. "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," said Commanding Officer Capt. Richard McCormack. "Our new pier position will allow the ship and shipyard team to complete the remaining pierside testing required before our upcoming sea trials." This operation marked the first time Ford has moved from its pier since coming out of dry dock in November 2013. The ship's stern now faced the James River. One of the most important accomplishments of the Turn Ship evolution was a "Sally Test". A Sally Test involves precision draft readings and confirmed that there is adequate stability for safe underway operations at sea.
Program Executive Office (PEO) Aircraft Carriers announced the successful completion of the Post-Shakedown Availability/Selected Restricted Availability (PSA/SRA) for USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) 30 October 2019 as the ship returned to its home port at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia. PSA completion marks a significant shipbuilding milestone for USS Gerald R. Ford, the first ship in a next-generation class that will serve for 50 years as the centerpiece of national defense in an increasingly complex security environment.
"This is a warship like none other, and the process of returning her to fleet service reflects the great technical skill, professionalism and tenacity of the government/industry team," said Rear Adm. James Downey, program executive officer for Aircraft Carriers. "USS Gerald R. Ford is the most technologically advanced, most lethal combat platform in the world. Everyone, from the highest levels of government to the crew working the deck plates, is laser focused on this aircraft carrier being ready to enter fleet service."
A PSA is a typical period of construction availability in the early life of a ship during which the Navy and shipbuilder resolve issues that arise during initial at-sea periods and make any needed changes and upgrades. The CVN 78 PSA began on July 15, 2018, and included work on Advanced Weapons Elevators (AWEs), repairs to the ship's main reduction gear, improvements to the throttle control system, upgrades to the Advanced Arresting Gear, and numerous other maintenance tasks. During the PSA, most individual discrepancies, known as "trial cards," that had been identified during previous work-ups were successfully addressed, with very few remaining to address in future maintenance availabilities. As a first-of-class ship, such discrepancies are not unexpected, and the Navy is incorporating lessons learned from CVN 78 to inform design and actively improve oversight of future ships of the class.
USS Gerald R. Ford may not be ready to deploy until 2024. Ford’s originally planned deployment date was 2018, but that goal continued to slip.
Gerald R. Ford
In 2006 the Congress directed that CVN-78, a nuclear powered aircraft carrier of the Navy, shall be named the USS Gerald Ford. In the 2006 Defense Authorization Bill, Congress made the following findings. Gerald R. Ford served his country with honor and distinction for the past 64 years, and continued to serve. Gerald R. Ford joined the United States Naval Reserve in 1942 and served valiantly at sea on the USS Monterey (CVL-26) during World War II, taking part in major operations in the Pacific, including at Makin Island, Kwajalein, Truk, Saipan, and the Philippine Sea. The USS Monterey earned 10 battle stars, awarded for participation in battle, while Gerald R. Ford served on the vessel.
Born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1913, he grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He starred on the University of Michigan football team, then went to Yale, where he served as assistant coach while earning his law degree. During World War II he attained the rank of lieutenant commander in the Navy. After the war he returned to Grand Rapids, where he began the practice of law, and entered Republican politics. A few weeks before his election to Congress in 1948, he married Elizabeth Bloomer. They had four children: Michael, John, Steven, and Susan.
Ford's reputation for integrity and openness made him popular during his 25 years in Congress. Gerald R. Ford was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1948. In the course of 25 years of service in the House of Representatives, Gerald R. Ford distinguished himself by his exemplary record for character, decency, and trustworthiness. Throughout his service in Congress, Gerald R. Ford was an ardent proponent of strong national defense and international leadership by the United States. From 1965 to 1973, Gerald R. Ford served as minority leader of the House of Representatives, raising the standard for bipartisanship in his tireless fight for freedom, hope, and justice.
Gerald Ford is the only unelected president in American history. He came to office following two political scandals. President Nixon appointed him vice president following the resignation of Vice President Spiro Agnew, amid bribery charges stemming from Agnew's time as governor of Maryland. Then, the Watergate scandal erupted, surrounding a bungled burglary at Democratic Party headquarters, leading President Nixon to resign rather than face impeachment.
From 1974 to 1976, Gerald R. Ford served as the 38th President of the United States, taking office during one of the most challenging periods in the history of the United States and restoring the faith of the people of the United States in the office of the President through his steady leadership, courage, and ultimate integrity. President Gerald R. Ford helped restore the prestige of the United States in the world community by working to achieve peace in the Middle East, preserve détente with the Soviet Union, and set new limits on the spread of nuclear weapons. President Gerald R. Ford served as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States with great dignity, supporting a strong Navy and a global military presence for the United State and honoring the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States.
When Gerald R. Ford took the oath of office on August 9, 1974, he declared, "I assume the Presidency under extraordinary circumstances.... This is an hour of history that troubles our minds and hurts our hearts." It was indeed an unprecedented time. He had been the first Vice President chosen under the terms of the Twenty-fifth Amendment and, in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, was succeeding the first President ever to resign.
Ford was confronted with almost insuperable tasks. There were the challenges of mastering inflation, reviving a depressed economy, solving chronic energy shortages, and trying to ensure world peace. The President acted to curb the trend toward Government intervention and spending as a means of solving the problems of American society and the economy. In the long run, he believed, this shift would bring a better life for all Americans.
As President, Ford tried to calm earlier controversies by granting former President Nixon a full pardon. His nominee for Vice President, former Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York, was the second person to fill that office by appointment. Gradually, Ford selected a cabinet of his own.
Ford established his policies during his first year in office, despite opposition from a heavily Democratic Congress. His first goal was to curb inflation. Then, when recession became the Nation's most serious domestic problem, he shifted to measures aimed at stimulating the economy. But, still fearing inflation, Ford vetoed a number of non-military appropriations bills that would have further increased the already heavy budgetary deficit. During his first 14 months as President he vetoed 39 measures. His vetoes were usually sustained.
Ford continued as he had in his Congressional days to view himself as "a moderate in domestic affairs, a conservative in fiscal affairs, and a dyed-in-the-wool internationalist in foreign affairs." A major goal was to help business operate more freely by reducing taxes upon it and easing the controls exercised by regulatory agencies. "We...declared our independence 200 years ago, and we are not about to lose it now to paper shufflers and computers," he said.
In foreign affairs Ford acted vigorously to maintain U. S. power and prestige after the collapse of Cambodia and South Viet Nam. Preventing a new war in the Middle East remained a major objective; by providing aid to both Israel and Egypt, the Ford Administration helped persuade the two countries to accept an interim truce agreement. Detente with the Soviet Union continued. President Ford and Soviet leader Leonid I. Brezhnev set new limitations upon nuclear weapons.
Donald H. Rumsfeld was sworn in as the 21st Secretary of Defense on January 20, 2001. Before assuming this post, the former Navy pilot had also served as the 13th Secretary of Defense, White House Chief of Staff, U.S. Ambassador to NATO, U.S. Congressman and chief executive officer of two Fortune 500 companies.
Rumsfeld attended Princeton University on academic and NROTC scholarships (A.B., 1954) and served in the U.S. Navy (1954-57) as an aviator and flight instructor. In 1957, Rumsfeld transferred to the Ready Reserve and continued his Naval service in flying and administrative assignments as a drilling reservist until 1975. Rumsfeld transferred to the Standby Reserve when he became Secretary of Defense in 1975 and to the Retired Reserve with the rank of Captain in 1989.
In 1957, Rumsfeld came to Washington, DC to serve as Administrative Assistant to a Congressman. After a stint with an investment banking firm, Rumsfeld was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois in 1962, at the age of 30, and was re-elected in 1964, 1966, and 1968. Mr. Rumsfeld resigned from Congress in 1969 during his fourth term to join the President's Cabinet. From 1969 to 1970, Rumsfeld served as Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity and Assistant to the President. From 1971 to 1972, Rumsfeld was Counsellor to the President and Director of the Economic Stabilization Program. In 1973, he left Washington, DC, to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Brussels, Belgium (1973-1974).
In August 1974, Rumsfeld was called back to Washington, DC, to serve as Chairman of the transition to the Presidency of Gerald R. Ford. He then became Chief of Staff of the White House and a member of the President's Cabinet (1974-1975). Rumsfeld served as the 13th U.S. Secretary of Defense, the youngest in the country's history (1975-1977).
President Ford won the Republican nomination for the Presidency in 1976, but lost the election to his Democratic opponent, former Governor Jimmy Carter of Georgia. On Inauguration Day, President Carter began his speech: "For myself and for our Nation, I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our land." A grateful people concurred.
Since leaving the office of President, Gerald R. Ford was an international ambassador of American goodwill, a noted scholar and lecturer, a strong supporter of human rights, and a promoter of higher education. Gerald R. Ford was awarded the Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1999 in recognition of his contribution to the Nation. As President, Gerald R. Ford bore the weight of a constitutional crisis and guided the Nation on a path of healing and restored hope, earning forever the enduring respect and gratitude of the Nation.
Former President Gerald Ford - the longest-living American president - died at the age of 93 on 26 December 2006. A statement from his wife, Betty, did not cite a cause of death.
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