USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78)
Introducing Gerald R. Ford Class
For more than 40 years, Nimitz-class carriers have played the first-responder role in crises and conflicts. The delivery of CVN 77 in 2009 provided continued proof of the viability of the early-’60s design of the Nimitz-class carriers; these ships have served the nation well, and will continue to do so in the coming decades. Ford-class ships will begin to succeed those of the Nimitz class when Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is commissioned. While the aircraft carrier’s basic mission will remain unchanged, Ford-class ships will deliver greater lethality, survivability, and joint interoperability, along with unmatched versatility and compatibility with continuing joint-force transformation – all at a reduced operating and maintenance cost to taxpayers. Ford will be capable of carrying the Navy’s most advanced aircraft, such as the F-35C Lightning II; F/A-18E/F Super Hornet; E-2D Advanced Hawkeye; EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft; MH-60R/S helicopters and unmanned air vehicles. Adding to its versatility, Ford will also be able to recover and launch various Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft flown by the United States Marine Corps. Finally, the design margins built into the ship will allow for integration of future manned and unmanned aircraft with minimal ship alterations.
Namesake: Gerald R. Ford 38th President of the United States
Class: Gerald R. Ford Class
Builder: Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipbuilding in VA
Flagship: Carrier Strike Group 10
Cost: $12.8 billion + $4.7 billion R&D
Laid Down: 13 November 2009
Launched: 11 October 2013
Christened: 9 November 2013
Sponsored by: Susan Ford
Commissioned: 22 July 2017, President Donald Trump
Homeport: NS Norfolk, Virginia
Motto: Integrity at the Helm
Status: active service
Displacement: 100,000 long tons
Length: Overall: 1,106 feet (337 m)
Waterline: 1,040 feet (317.0 M)
Beam: 134 ft (41m) (waterline) 256 ft (78m) (flight deck)
Height: Nearly 250 ft (76m)
Installed Power: 2 A1B nuclear reactors
Propulsion: 2 nuclear reactors, 4 x shafts, 260,000 shp (194 MW)
Speed: 30+ knots (56+km/h; 35+mph)
Range: Unlimited distance; 20-25 years
Armament: Surface to Air missles: 2 x RIM -162 ESSM launchers, 2 x RIM-116 RAM Guns: 3 x Phalanx CIWS 4 x M2 .50 Cal. (1207 mm) machine guns
Aircraft Carried: More than 75
Building a Giant
Building an aircraft carrier takes generations of experience, hundreds of thousands of man hours, years of planning and steady determination. USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is the product of years of construction, and before that, years of planning and design. Five thousand shipbuilders in Newport News and thousands of suppliers across the United States contributed to this first-in-class ship.
Ready for the 21st Century
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is the first new design for an aircraft carrier since USS Nimitz (CVN 68). The shipbuilders found value in every square inch of the ship, saving the Navy a projected $4 billion in ownership costs over the ship’s 50-year lifespan. The ship is equipped with two newly-designed reactors and has 250 percent more electrical capacity than previous carriers. The improvements will allow the ship to load weapons and launch aircraft faster than ever before.
Gerald R. Ford Class Ship Facts
The Ford class incorporates advancements in technology that make the carrier more capable and more efficient, while also providing it with the ability to implement future advancements in technology with relative ease. With increased capability and reduced total-ownership costs – through, e.g., manpower reductions and innovations, such as greater electrical production from the nuclear power plant, the use of fiber-optic networks, improved corrosion control, and the use of new, lightweight materials – CVN 78 and future Ford-class carriers package increased warfighting capability and enhanced survivability in a platform that will keep pace with the threat through the course of the 21st century.
Improvements in the Ford Class vs Nimitz Class:
The Island on CVN 78 is smaller and further aft than that of previous carriers, increasing space for flight-deck operations and aircraft maintenance, thus enabling the ship and air wing to launch more aircraft sorties per day.
CVN 78 has replaced legacy steam-powered systems with electric-drive components. With three times the electrical-generation capacity of any previous carrier, the ship is readily susceptible of future modernization with new and emerging technologies throughout its 50-year service life.
A Longer Time between maintenance availabilities allows for increased steaming days over the life of the ship.
Its IMPROVED SURVIVABILITY includes improvements in hull design, firefighting systems, and weapons stowage.
Improved WEAPONS AND MATERIAL HANDLING are provided by the Advanced Weapons Elevators, which provide faster movement of ordnance from magazines to aircraft.
FORD-CLASS AIRCRAFT CARRIERS include new and innovative technologies to launch and recover (land) aircraft.
The Ford-class electromagnetic-powered aircraft launch system (EMALS) offers numerous advantages over the traditional steam-powered catapults of the Nimitz-class carriers.
EMALS provides for more accurate end-speed control, with a smoother acceleration at both high and low speeds.
The system also possesses the necessary energy capacity to support an increased launch envelope and a capability of launching both current and future carrier air wing platforms – from the lightest unmanned aerial vehicles to heavy strike fighters.
The Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) system provides Ford-class ships with the ability to recover both current and projected carrier-based, tailhook-equipped aircraft, and is the follow-on system to the Mark-7 system of the Nimitz class.
AAG allows for the recovery of a broader range of aircraft and, through its greater control, reduces the fatigue-impact load on the recovered platforms.
The AAG architecture includes built-in test and diagnostic technologies.
Ford-class carriers include QUALITY OF LIFE enhancements, such as improved berthing compartments, better gyms, and more ergonomic work spaces