Ford aircraft carrier gets commissioned in Virginia

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The U.S. Navy on Saturday with the help of President Donald Trump commissioned its most powerful warship yet: the USS Gerald Ford.

The next carrier in the Ford class, the USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), is scheduled to launch in 2020.

The Ford, built by Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc., isn't expected to be ready for combat deployment for at least four years, having yet to complete its navigation and cyber-security inspections.

Mr. Trump used the occasion to call on Congress to complete the fiscal 2018 budget that would boost defense spending by about $54 billion, an increase of roughly 10 percent.

'To every patriot who will serve on this ship, I say this: Keep the watch, protect her and defend her, ' he said.

The vessel completed sea trials in April but still will go through a battery of tests and workups at sea before becoming ready for deployment, work that is expected to cost almost $780 million and take more than four years to complete, congressional auditors said this month. The Ford is also the first aircraft carrier to join the fleet since USS George H.W. Bush in 2009. Ford became president after Richard Nixon stepped down amid the Watergate scandal in 1977. Trump tweeted before departing Saturday for the ceremony that the Ford is the largest aircraft carrier in the world. "God bless this ship and all who serve it", said trump. Ford almost fell from the ship's deck into frigid waters below and just narrowly missed becoming one of hundreds of casualties.

"Our greatest weapon is all of you", Trump told the crowd attending the commissioning ceremony.

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In 1946, Ford was released from active duty and formally resigned from the Navy in 1963.

Despite delays to the Ford's delivery, the Navy said that the Ford-class carriers will yield a $4 billion reduction per ship cost as compared to its predecessor. He served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Monterey and participated in actions in the Pacific Theater, including at Makin Island, Kwajalein and the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

The Navy was granted a waiver as it waited for the USS Gerald Ford to be completed.

"So Skipper, as we marvel at the technology and the daunting numbers that measure this ship, never lose sight that in times of crisis, you will be the first to respond, and when called upon, you will deliver the final word in the bidding of our nation", said Stackley.

The Gerald R. Ford class incorporates advances in technology such as a new reactor plant, propulsion system, electric plant, Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG), machinery control, Dual Band Radar and integrated warfare systems.

Despite the challenges that come with developing and testing a carrier that is first in its class, commanding officers touted the expertise demonstrated by the Ford's crew members in operating its advanced systems.