The aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford most definitely had its growing pains. At $12.9 billion, it is coming in nearly two years late and $2.4 billion (23 percent) over budget.
And a new GAO report this week said it will cost another $780 million on top of that in the years ahead, to get the vessel combat-ready.
But, as the most sophisticated warship ever imagined, it took time to get it right, supporters say. And they say the Ford will help war fighters do what they need to do, which is to fight and win the wars of tomorrow.
"This thing is going to be magic," said retired Rear Admiral Mike Groothousen. "And it's going to take a while to figure out how to use it."
Groothousen flew jets, and commanded the USS Harry S. Truman. He's excited about this next generation aircraft carrier, and how it will be a game-changer in 21st century combat.
"They're going to find ways to make this thing truly more efficient," he said. "They're talking of being able to generate -- instead of 150 -- 240 sorties in a normal flight day. That in and of itself, is a great move forward in our mobile airport capabilities, and strike capability that we bring to the Navy. So I'm very excited. Do we need it? Boy yes, we need it now."
However, the Ford arrives with some well documented baggage, including its high price tag and later-than-hoped-for delivery.
Groothousen blames lawmakers in Congress and a decade of Continuing Resolutions, instead of proper, long-term budgets.
"It would be 10 times easier to build ships of this type if we had a two-year budget or a four-year budget," he said. "And quite frankly, that's what slowed the Ford down a couple of times, with waiting for the next roll of the budget to keep plans going."
Retired Vice Admiral John Mazach was there from the very beginning.
"And the whole thing came down to, we need to be able to generate more sorties," he said. "We need to be able to cut down in the number of folks about the ship, because, folks equals money."
Mazach was there in the early 2000's, when the key decisions were made on what the Ford was going to be. He served as commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic. He later worked at Newport News Shipbuilding, where the Ford was designed and constructed.
"At that time, we had a Secretary of Defense by the name of Don Rumsfeld," he said. "It was his second go-round as Secretary of Defense. An he was pretty thorough and pretty focused. And he said, 'If you're going to design a new aircraft carrier, I want it to be transformational.'"
And so it was with the Ford. Different than anything that came before, able to generate a third more sorties, with 25 percent less people.
President Trump was critical of the Ford's electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS). He said it's "no-good," and it would take "Albert Einstein to figure it out."
But Mazach has faith in system.
"EMALS is difficult, because it's brand-spanking new," he said. "And you've got to say, 'It's different from steam catapults.' But EMALS has the ability to do what it is we need it to do. And I think that's what's going to happen, perhaps 20 or 30 years from now, somebody will have a discussion that says, 'Boy, I'm glad those guys did that.' At least, I hope that's the discussion because, look at what we've done with it since then."
PHOTOS: The Gerald R. Ford undergoes sea trials
As big of a deal as it is in Virginia where the ship was built, the impending commissioning of the Gerald R. Ford might be an even bigger deal in the former president's home sate.
Just about anywhere you go in Grand Raids, you'll see the president's name.
There's the Ford International Airport, the Ford Federal Building, the Ford Field house at the community college and one of the main highways here, the Gerald R. Ford Freeway. The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is located in downtown.
The Boy Scout council is also named after Gerald Ford, where a young Jerry became an Eagle scout and got his start in community service that never stopped.
Ford grew up in Grand Rapids, met his wife and married in Grand Rapids, and raised his family here. It's also Gerald and Betty Ford's final resting place.
"They knew they wanted to come back here. It was a special place for them in their hearts and they loved, both of them loved Grand Rapids, and they came back here a lot, post-presidency," said Joe Calvaruso of the Ford Foundation.
"Whether it was the grand opening of a new building or to celebrate his birthday, President Ford never forgot his roots," Calvaruso continued. "President Ford loved Grand Rapids, and Grand Rapids loved President Ford."
A statue of President Gerald R. Ford on board the ship named after him, showing the president when he was a Navy lieutenant commander in World War II.
Jerry Ford was a star athlete in high school and at the University of Michigan. He got his first taste of politics as a campaign volunteer.
During World War II, he enlisted in the Navy, where he was a decorated lieutenant commander of an aircraft carrier.
Just before Ford's death in 2006, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visited the former president at his California home to give him the news that an aircraft carrier would be named after him.
"President Ford was so delighted to have him, and know that was happening. It was just a month later that he passed away, so he knew this was happening and was just so pleased," said Calvaruso.
Ford died on December 26, 2006, and Grand Rapids went into mourning. Flowers, candles, cards, and signs covered the grounds outside his museum.
His casket returned to Grand Rapids and was displayed at the museum for public viewing on January 2, 2007. More than 50,000 people braved the cold to wait in line.
"The people -- all night long -- stretched for blocks, and the family members came over and shook hands. It was all night long," said Calvaruso. "Thousands and thousands of people came to share their respects and be part of this tribute to President Ford."
At his funeral on January 3, dignitaries came to Grand Rapids from all over the country. Rumsfeld spoke at the service, as did Ford's good friend, former President Jimmy Carter, who defeated President Ford in 1976.
File picture showing President Gerald Ford hugging his wife Betty at the White House, December 30, 1974.
Just six months before his death, President Ford asked President Carter for a special favor.
"I was very honored to come here, and give his main eulogy," said Carter.
President Ford has nieces and nephews who live in Grand Rapids, and the Ford children visit every year. Just last week, Susan Ford attended the annual wreath laying at her father's burial site to commemorate what would have been his 104th birthday.
She is anxiously awaiting the commissioning of the Gerald R. Ford.
"The motto of the ship is, 'Integrity at the Helm,' and how appropriate that is, a ship that's helping preserve our freedoms will be out there carrying President Ford's name," she said.
A celebration will also be held at the museum and the community will be able to watch the commissioning live on a Jumbotron. It's another way to honor a man who will always be so important to the people of Grand Rapids.