NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- It is way behind schedule and way over budget but, the Gerald R. Ford is about to join the Navy fleet, finally.
Two years later than planned, and at $12.9 billion, it cost 23% more than planned. Still, the Ford will become the nation's newest, most advanced aircraft carrier ever.
The ship will feature an all new electromagnetic launch system.
It's been the subject of some controversy, with President Trump saying it's so advanced it requires Einstein to operate.
But, the system is projected to launch up to 240 planes per day instead of the current 150. That enhanced "sortie" rate, could be a game-changer.
"And that's really what it's all about, getting the number of assets overhead, to protect the guy on the ground," said the Ford's commanding officer, Captain Rick McCormack
Ford sailors, who've been with the ship through the long shipyard construction phase, can't wait for the commissioning, and can't wait to take the ship out to sea.
"I think the whole crew is excited about that, especially the aviation boatswains mates," said LCDR Jamie Roman, the ship's aircraft handling officer. "I have 628 sailors who can't wait to get airplanes on board this ship who can't wait to get airplanes aboard this ship."
Petty Officer Marcus Steed is enthused, after spending the 3.5 years at the shipyard. "This is very exciting," he said. "I was here when there was no paint, no anything. It was virtually an empty shell. So to see it from the construction phase to now, it's incredible what they did in a short amount of time."
Command Master Chief Laura Nunley says the crew is ready for the next adventure. "They've looked forward to this moment for quite a few years now," she said. "They've worked really hard and they're excited. They're excited about the commissioning and to go to the next step and get underway."
The commissioning ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, July 22 at Naval Station Norfolk.
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