US Navy’s new $13B aircraft carrier is ‘quantum leap into the 21st century’
David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images(NORFOLK, Va.) — The U.S. Navy is unveiling a new aircraft carrier with a 21st-century design and a big price tag.
The USS Gerald R. Ford, which was unveiled in a commissioning ceremony on Saturday in Norfolk, Virginia, cost nearly $13 billion to build, making it the Navy’s most expensive aircraft carrier ever.
“This is the first new design of an aircraft carrier in more than 40 years, and it really is a state-of-the-art ship,” U.S. Navy Cmdr. Dave Hecht told ABC News. The USS Ford will replace Nimitz-class carriers as the next generation of ships.
“The USS Gerald R. Ford is really a quantum leap into the 21st century,” Hecht added.
ABC News and other media were invited on a tour of the carrier 12 days before its commissioning. Officers brought the press around for a quick look at the flight deck, crew quarters, navigation room and other spaces that represent advancements from earlier classes of carriers.
“Our voyage-management system is the only one of its kind. Our steering-gear control system — only one of its kind,” Petty Officer 1st Class Jose Triana said. “You really can’t compare it to anything else.’
On the flight deck, planes will use a new electromagnetic system to launch as opposed to the traditional steam-driven catapult.
The redesign extends to the sleeping areas. Before, 100 sailors would be crammed together at night. Now, only 25 to 30 will sleep in each area.
The massive 1,100-foot warship won’t be sent into combat for at least four more years, as it still needs to undergo more testing. Around 2,600 sailors will work and call the ship home once it’s fully operational.
Despite the delays and big price tag, the U.S. Navy says the Ford class carriers will be $4 billion cheaper to construct compared to older ships.
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