Breaking News
More () »

After years of setbacks, finally success for USS Gerald R. Ford

The aircraft carrier completed its first deployment in 2022. A longer deployment is anticipated in 2023.

NORFOLK, Va. — 2022 has been a banner year for the Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78). After years of setbacks, delays, and cost overruns, the $13 billion warship finally embarked upon its first deployment.

Construction began in 2009 at Newport News Shipbuilding, the ship was christened in 2013, and then commissioned in 2017. But it wasn't until this past October that the Ford officially set sail.

The aircraft carrier headed out to the North Atlantic to participate in exercises with eight NATO partners and allies in the Second and Sixth Fleet areas of operations.

During the deployment, the Ford operated with Canada, Denmark, Spain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden "to strengthen interoperability, while conducting a range of maritime operations and exercises," according to a Navy press release.

"I am extremely proud of the hard work that has gone to prepare for this deployment. And I'm even more proud of the Ford sailors and strike group team for leading the charge for this first-in-class, state-of-the-art aircraft carrier," said Vice Admiral Daniel Dwyer, commander of the U.S. Second Fleet 

It had been nearly 40 years since the Navy commissioned a new generation of aircraft carriers. Ford sailors were thrilled to be a part of this new chapter.

"Since I've been on board, we've been working really hard towards this moment. And now that the moment here, I'm really excited," said Retail Services Specialist First Class Steven Manrique.

The deployment came after several years of working out the kinks in 23 new technological systems, including 11 weapons elevators that didn't initially work, advanced arresting gear, and the electromagnetic aircraft launch system. The ship's crew had performed more than 10,000 launches of airplanes off the flight deck to make sure everything worked.

"We're not in test mode. We are in operating mode. And all systems are go," said Captain Paul Lanzilotta, USS Gerald R. Ford Commanding Officer.

In total, the Ford traveled more than 9,275 nautical miles. The 53-day deployment came to an end in late November, getting the Ford crew home in time for most of the holidays.

Navy leaders have said the Ford will ship out on a longer, more traditional deployment, sometime in 2023.

Before You Leave, Check This Out