Watch the US Navy's new first-in-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford finally set sail on its first deployment
- The first-in-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford is finally deploying.
- The ship, the world's most advanced aircraft carrier, will deploy to the Atlantic.
The US Navy's newest aircraft carrier — the first-in-class USS Gerald R. Ford — is setting sail on its first deployment.
The ship is the Navy's most advanced aircraft carrier and features a suite of new technologies intended to help the Navy maintain its edge over rival powers like Russia and China. These advanced capabilities, however, have come at a cost. The carrier is way over budget and years behind schedule.
Initially expected to deploy for the first time four years ago, the Ford is at last departing Norfolk, Virginia for what the Navy is calling a "short, service-retained deployment" in the Atlantic Ocean.
The deployment was supposed to begin on Monday, but due to "changing weather conditions," the start of this maiden deployment was delayed until the following day.
Watch here as aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford sets sail on its first deployment. The ship pulls away from the pier around the 1:20:00 mark.
The carrier was commissioned five years ago, but the integration of new technologies, such as the electromagnetic catapults for launching planes, advanced arresting gear for aircraft recovery, and advanced weapons elevators for quickly moving ordnance, led to setbacks, cost overruns, and delays.
These are technological leaps over the fleet of 10 Nimitz-class carriers that will boost the ship's combat power if they function as designed during the stresses of a deployment.
The ship has faced significant criticism from Congress to the White House. Former President Donald Trump complained often about the Ford, both the appearance and the onboard systems, and thought it would never work while one congresswoman once called it a "$13 billion nuclear-powered berthing barge."
But the powerful ship is finally ready to deploy, having gone through the necessary trials, including explosive shock trials involving the detonation of 40,000-pound bombs near the carrier, and all necessary maintenance.
During this short deployment, which is meant to give the crew a chance to work out best operational practices, Carrier Strike Group 12 will be under the control of the chief of naval operations and command of US 2nd Fleet instead of a combatant command that oversees military operations.
The Ford will deploy on a more traditional operational deployment next year. In the meantime, Capt. Paul Lanzilotta, the carrier's commanding officer, said "we're going to fly aircraft, we're going to do air defense, we're going to do long-range maritime strike," the aim being to refine the Ford's capabilities.
The Navy plans to have the Ford conduct drills alongside allies and partner navies. The deployment will involve around 9,000 personnel from nine countries, 20 ships and 60 aircraft, according to the sea service.
"This deployment is an opportunity to push the ball further down the field and demonstrate the advantage that Ford and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 bring to the future of naval aviation, to the region and to our allies and partners," Rear Adm. Gregory Huffman, commander of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, explained in a recent statement.
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