Huntington Ingalls Industries said that its Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) division hosted a visit by Susan Ford Bales, daughter of the late President Gerald R. Ford and sponsor of his namesake ship.
Bales received a briefing on Gerald R. Ford's (CVN 78) construction progress since her last visit in August 2010. Following the briefing, Bales toured Ford with shipyard leadership, ascended NNS' 1,050-metric ton crane to get a bird's-eye view of the shipyard, and had lunch with CVN 78 shipbuilders.
"It has been more than a year since my last visit, and the ship has changed immensely," Bales said. "Every day it becomes a more important part of my family, especially with the loss of my mother. It's one more way to continue my father's legacy so people will understand who he was and what he was about."
Bales helped erect and position a section of the ship's main deck, connect instrumentation wiring and operate watertight doors. She also observed mechanized welding operations.
Gerald R. Ford represents the next-generation class of aircraft carriers. The Ford class features a new nuclear power plant, a redesigned island, electromagnetic catapults, improved weapons movement, an enhanced flight deck capable of increased aircraft sortie rates, and growth margin for future technologies and reduced manning. Gerald R. Ford's keel was laid Nov. 14, 2009, and the christening will occur in 2013 with delivery to the U.S. Navy in 2015.