The Biggest and Most Expensive Warship Ever Built Set Off on Its First Official Voyage

Ford departed on its first official cruise in the Atlantic on October 3, 2002 7 photos
Photo: Facebook/USS Gerald R. Ford- CVN 78
USS Gerald R. Ford - CVN 78USS Gerald R. Ford - CVN 78USS Gerald R. Ford - CVN 78USS Gerald R. Ford - CVN 78 During Sea TrialsUSS Gerald R. Ford - CVN 78 During Sea TrialsUSS Gerald R. Ford - CVN 78 During Sea Trials
It’s been five years since it was commissioned, and now the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) is one step closer to its first deployment, set for 2023. The new and highly-advanced aircraft carrier will first show what it can do during a “shakedown cruise” in the Atlantic for military drills.
On Monday, October 3, the USS Gerald R. Ford departed on its first official voyage in the Atlantic, paving the way for its deployment next year. It’s a huge milestone for a military ship that is meant to become a game-changer.

According to Vice Adm. Daniel Dwyer, US 2nd Fleet commander, the vessel will get to practice things like long-range maritime strikes, air defense, and naval integration. It will work together with allied naval forces and will make at least one stop at a foreign port.

Three destroyers, a cruiser, a dry cargo ship, a U.S. Coast Guard cutter, and a replenishment oiler are also part of Ford’s carrier strike group. Onboard, Ford will show off MH-60 Sierra and MH-60 Sea Hawk helicopters, in addition to the F-18 Super Hornets, E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes, and EA-18G Growlers.

Here are some of the reasons why Ford is such a special ship. It’s the first one built in the Ford class of aircraft carriers, which is the newest U.S. Navy class to be built in the last 40 years. It’s considered the largest warship ever built, as well as the most expensive one in the world – this mammoth vessel is 1,092-foot-long (332,8 meters) and reportedly costs a little over $13 billion.

It’s not just bigger than the Nimitz-class carriers that it’s supposed to replace but also much more innovative. Powered by two nuclear reactors, it can cruise at more than 30 knots (34.5 mph/55.5 kph). Although much larger, it can actually operate with fewer crew members onboard, thanks to advanced automation systems.

Big enough to carry almost 90 aircraft, Ford also boasts a new system for launching aircraft. Instead of the conventional steam catapult system, the new electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) uses a linear induction motor to get aircraft to take-off speed. This is also meant to support unmanned aircraft operations and other future technological innovations.

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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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