Huntington Ingalls Industries' Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) division inaugurate the christening of Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), the first ship of the next-generation class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.
The first-in-class ship 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.
Before a standing-room-only crowd of thousands, Susan Ford Bales, the ship's sponsor and daughter of President Ford, smashed a bottle of American sparkling wine across the bow to christen the ship. During her remarks, she addressed the shipbuilders, reflecting on the relationships she has built with them during construction of her father's namesake ship.
"This shipyard's motto, 'Always Good Ships,' is not just a phrase; it is a way of life here for over a century," Bales said. "There is nothing—absolutely nothing—that can describe how proud I am to be your fellow shipbuilder. Your integrity and patriotic commitments to excellence are without equal. Shipbuilders of Newport News—you are a national treasure."
Since November 2006, more than 5,000 shipbuilders have helped to construct Ford, and suppliers from 46 states across the country have contributed specialized parts, skilled services and support to aircraft carrier production. In the weeks following the christening, the carrier will be launched into the James River and moved to a pier for outfitting and testing. The ship is scheduled for delivery to the U.S. Navy in 2016.