The United States Navy is known to be the biggest and most efficient naval force in the world. Obviously, the two biggest reasons why the U.S. Navy holds such a stature globally is its highly talented and hard-working personnel coupled with weaponry made using high-end technology and the constant zeal of the U.S. Navy to stay ahead of the pack by coming up with innovation in all the aspects related to an actual combat. Today, we take a look at the latest creation by the United States Navy in the form of an aircraft carrier ship named USS Gerald R. Ford. What this carrier is capable of achieving in the situation of an active combat with an enemy, because of its state of the art equipment is driving the whole world crazy! So, it’s obvious that you’ll be left thrilled to the core after reading about this modern day marvel!
This ship is the first of the elite section of United States Navy supercarriers and is a stunning proof of the US Navy being the most powerful in the world. It is proudly named after Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States who also served the nation during World War II combating enemy forces in the Pacific aboard the light aircraft navy carrier named Monterey. The construction of this sea-beast started on 11 August 2005 and eventually, this ambitious project which cost the government a staggering amount of $13 billion saw its completion on 9 November 2013, the day the ship was ceremonially launched. 22 July 2017, will be remembered as a golden day in the history of US Navy as President Trump commissioned this magnificent and intimidating warship on that day.
It seems that the US Navy is really up to the task of cementing their global dominance as a Naval unit. This is evident from the fact that apart from turning the dreamy figure of USS Gerald R. Ford into reality, the government is also coming up with USS John F Kennedy CVN-79 to team up with USS Gerald R. Ford. After successfully commissioning USS Ford in 2017, the authorities are confident enough for USS Kennedy which is presently under construction at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia to be commissioned in 2020. up 2nd in the new Ford-class is the USS John F Kennedy CVN-79. It was in the year 2011, that the ship was officially named for the 35th President of the United States, John F Kennedy.
Interestingly, USS Gerald R. Ford became one of the few US ships to be named after a living person when Donald Rumsfeld a former United States Secretary of Defense told the media on 3 January 2007 that he had personally conveyed the news of the honor to Ford, a few weeks before his death. Eventually, the ship was officially named CVN-78 USS Gerald R. Ford. on 16 January 2007 by Donald Winter a navy secretary, with Susan Ford daughter of Gerald Ford being named the sponsor of the ship. The air of doubt and fear from the minds of the government officials and everyone associated with this ambitious project got cleared on November 2013, when the magnificent ship saw the initiation of its successful trials after being launched into the James River located in Virginia from a dry dock. The whole nation was confident of the ship coming handy during naval operations.
The successful launch of USS Gerald R. Ford was an indication for the whole world that the United States is growing day by day and strengthening its claim of being the most powerful and supreme nation in the world. President Trump’s reaction was also on the same line when he visited USS Gerald Ford as he went on to say in his speech,“American hands and American steel constructed a 100,000-ton message to the world: American might is second to none.” No doubt, USS Gerald R. Ford has given countries like China and Russia something to definitely ponder about as they are the top contenders fighting it out with the USA to gain the status of a supreme nation.
The ceremony was as grand and magnificent as the ship itself. There were many members of the U.S. Navy present at the Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia with the guest of honor being commander in chief of the U.S. military Donald Trump to celebrate the commissioning of the ship. Interestingly, President Trump was not at all happy initially with the project of making USS Gerald R. Ford. On being asked about the ship in an interview with Time, he said,”costs hundreds of millions of dollars more money and it’s no good.” Contrarily, the ship on its completion equipped with an electromagnetic launch system and capable of efficient take-off and landing with the help of advanced arresting gear made sure that President Trump was all in praise on its commissioning.
At the time of commissioning the final price tag came out to be around 13 billion which is due to increase as the trials 0f the ship planned for the year 2021 is going to increase the final price tag by $780 million. The ship gave everybody a glimpse of what it was capable of during its initial sea trials. People like Matt Mulherin, president of Newport News Shipbuilding and others who were on board were delightedly exclaimed, “It just performed like a champ.” The main attraction was the high-speed turns taken by the ship which saw it moving back and forth. “You’re up on the island,” Mulherin said, “and you look out one window and all you see is the sky. You look out the other window and all you see is water. It’s amazing how fast the ship responds.”
The highlight of the traditional ceremony on July 22 was Susan Bales Ford, daughter of President Ford giving the much-awaited order to the crew of the ship of manning it and “Bringing her to life.” A napkin ring from the carrier USS Monterey in which Susan’s father served the nation during World War II is one among the selected few items that now glorifies the walls of the inport cabin of the captain of USS Gerald R. Ford. Other items being a desk chair, Ford’s 1992 Lone Sailor Award from the U.S. Navy Memorial and an American flag. Susan ford actively participated in the construction of the ship saying that the father would have done the same thing if he would have been alive. She added,“It’s made a difference in my life, and I’ve had a great time doing it”
It is imperative to state that the Nimitz Class which was commissioned in the year 1975 was the center of attraction in the US Navy’s arsenal for a very long time. When it comes to the cost of construction that the government bore, The Nimitz Class stands at one-third of USS Gerald Ford which makes the latter the most expensive warship ever made. Another aspect in which USS Ford dominates Nimitz is the capacity to generate electricity three times more powerful using its two new-design AB1 nuclear reactors. But, the most stunning upgrade is that of Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System which would significantly improve the take-off speeds using electromagnetic field and Advanced Arresting Gear(AAG) giving it a state of the art landing system.
Some of the other positive qualities of USS Gerald R. Ford which might not seem that stunning are new electric weapons elevators, various advancements regarding optimization of space, a bigger flight deck area, a redesigned island, and a state of the art sewage system. The Ford Class’s dedicated website states, “During the design process, the shipbuilders found hidden value in every square inch of the ship. Thus, it will save Americans billions over the years.” The ship is fully automated which enables it to operate with the help of fewer crew members. As, Newport News Shipbuilding’s President Matt Mulherin said in an interview,“We’ve taken off a lot of bunks, and taken off workload for a lot of sailors, but it retains all of the functionality of the Nimitz-class ships.”
It is for the first time that a ship constructed by Newport News Shipbuilding is equipped with augmented-reality technology.”It’s like the difference between having a TV and not having a TV,” allowing users “to see things in 3D before they’re there,” said Dexter Lilley, the chief operating officer of Index AR Solutions, which worked with Newport News on the technology. The significant use of AR in ships is to replace drawings and paperwork packages. USS Gerald R. Ford is the first ship to be made with the help of a full-scale 3D model. Moreover, this technology will make sure during the 50 years of service that it saves more than $4 billion in total ownership costs. The crew members of the USS Gerald R. Ford will be using tablets in order to manage and control some applications. This is the best example of augmented technology solutions.
The person you see in this strange image is Newport News engineer Tosha Revere and here she is describing the Rapid Operational Virtual Reality (ROVR) system which is used to visualize spaces in the USS Gerald R. Ford, the first ship to be made using a 3D model. COO of Index AR solutions, Dexter Lilley excitedly says,”Now they walk into space, access the 3D marker and look around the ship, and the temporary steel shows up in green, we took 36 hours of work and did it in 90 minutes.” He added by stating,”A lot of people think you can buy a piece of AR software and solve complex industrial problems and you just can’t, we stretch Vuforia — it’s not designed to do training or instructions, it’s designed to provide vision science.”
If we go on with describing the astounding features of the USS Gerald R. Ford through numbers then you should certainly brace yourself for getting amazed. As the most technologically advanced warship, ever built costs a whopping $12.9 billion, built by 5000 skillful American shipbuilders. The ship is coated with an unbelievable 200,000 gallons of paint and weighs around 90,000 tons which is equivalent to the weight of four hundred Statues of Liberty. On top of it all, it has been made using four million pounds of metal. “Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers and carrier strike groups will provide the core capabilities of forwarding presence, deterrence, sea control, power projection, maritime security and humanitarian assistance,” according to the Navy’s website.
It was in August 2005 that CVN-78’s first steel was cut. The event was succeeded by the handing over of a $1.5 billion contract in September 2008 to the Newport News and laying the keel of the ship in November 2009. The ship was being equipped with 4 thirty tonne bronze propellers in October 2013 with the first voyage taking place a month later. Tests like Anchor aboard the carrier and EMALS were completed in June 2014 and May 2015 respectively. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) stated,”As is typical with sea trials, the Navy and shipbuilder learned a great deal about the ship’s performance during the extensive testing.” “We have a few work items like you’d expect on something the size of a city,” Mulherin, president of Newport News Shipbuilding, said.
Northrop Grumman, a company pioneering in global security melted an unbelievable 35 Tons of Steel for Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Propeller Struts. No doubt, in order to succeed in a challenging task like this, the Newport News Shipbuilding facility came up with its own steel foundry on-site. Actually, the Newport News shipyard had purchased the foundry in the year 1902 which was established in 1856. The foundry got worldwide recognition for supporting significant hydro-electric projects like Hoover Dam and producing excellent castings for numerous ships both commercial and belonging to the U.S. Navy. A precise insight into the outstanding potential of the foundry is that it is able to produce 8 million pounds of castings per year.
When it comes to attacking the enemy forces the word that comes to everybody’s mind in an instant is that of a missile. Undoubtedly, the construction team left no stone unturned when it came to developing one of the unique and most advanced additions to the ship that of Active electronically scanned array search and tracking radar system. In the image, you can see the missiles being loaded into the ships cautiously by the sailors belonging to the ship’s Combat Systems department. Intensive care needs to be taken when dealing with an extremely dangerous and sensitive object like a missile, which implies that the sailors are specially trained to handle such objects and deal with pressure situations calmly. The USS Ford is able to carry 90 aircraft in one go which turns out to be a stunning figure when compared with other carriers.
The weight on the dry dock saw an exponential rise after the installation of 4 thirty-ton bronze propellers. Each propeller is 21 feet in diameter and helps the carrier to move swiftly cutting through the water. Rolf Bartschi, NNS’ vice president, CVN 78 carrier construction said, “Installation of the propellers culminates more than 10 months of focused work by numerous trades in support of installing the underwater shafting. The configuration of the blades, the weight of the propellers and the extremely tight tolerances required make this a challenging installation. I commend the rigging and machinery installation mechanics for a job well done.” In the image, you can see the workers using a torque wrench in order to tighten the propellers.
The government is coming up with another Ford class carrier ship named USS John F. Kennedy(CVN-79), a ship under construction with its commissioning set it in the year 2020. It was an announcement by the Department of Defense on 29 May 2011, which led to the ship being named after for John F. Kennedy (1917–1963), who served in the Navy during World War II and became the 35th President of the United States. Consequently, a $374 million contract was awarded to Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding on 15 January 2009, for the design work and construction of the ship. The ship’s sponsor is late President Kennedy’s daughter Caroline Kennedy.
When the U.S. Navy ships are in danger of being attacked by anti-ship missiles, the MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapons System which is a rapid-fire 20-millimeter gun with lightning-quick reactions comes to their rescue. It is specially designed to engage in a short range battle with anti-ship cruise missiles and fixed-wing aircraft. In the image, you can see the MK-15 close-in weapon system of the ship being fed with dummy ammunition by the crew of the ship. They do it as a part of their routine maintenance check. The production of this highly effective weapon system started in the year 1978 which consists of two 20mm gun mounts.
The MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapons System developed by Raytheon Systems Company satisfies the primary function of defending against anti-ship missiles using an M-61A1 Gatling gun type. It weighs around 12,500 pounds and is capable of firing 3,000 rounds per minute with a 20mm caliber. It was first deployed in the year 1980 aboard USS America. It has a Self-contained search and tracks radar with ammunitions like Armor Piercing Discarding Sabot (APDS) and Depleted Uranium or Tungsten sub-caliber penetrator. In the image, you can see a highly skilled pair of gunners handling one of the ship’s .50-caliber machine guns during a drill.
In the image, you can see an M-14, an automatic rifle made in America attached to the end in order to launch a line to the pier. It fires 7.62×51mm NATO (commercial .308 Winchester) ammunition. There is a weight made of rubber attached to the line meant to be shot at someone standing on the pier. The M-14 has a historical significance as it is the last American battle rifle to be issued in quantity to U.S. military personnel. It was developed after a continuous chain of innovations and advancement which started from the M1 rifle. Moreover, the M-14 is the basis for M-21 and M-25 rifle. Currently, a new version of M-14, the Mk 14 Enhanced Battle Rifle is being used.
The USS Gerald R. Ford boasts of being equipped with The Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) System, which is technologically one of the most advanced ships self-defense weapons. Its major qualities are that of having a lightning quick reaction, fire-and-forget weapon and of being extremely light in weight. It is capable of engaging in multiple threats because of its passive radio frequency and infrared guidance design. In the image, a test is being performed on the USS Ford’s Rolling Airframe Missile launching system by the Fire Controlman 3rd Class Lawrence Batcheller.
The USS Gerald R. Ford has an increased flight deck space and an improved hull design when compared to Nimitz. The ship towers at a height of 134 feet and has an expansive hangar bay the place where the aircraft are stored when they are not in use. It has advanced weapons elevators allowing an easy way for the movement of ordnance from the magazines to the aircraft by the sailors. In the image, Beatriz Milique is monitoring the flight deck of the USS Ford from the Primary Flight Control.
A type of aircraft launching system developed by General Atomics for the United States Navy, Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) is capable of launching carrier-based aircraft from an aircraft catapult with the help of latest linear motor drive. It is specially developed for USS Gerald R. Ford. In the image you can see, a launcher test of the ship’s Electromagnetic Aircraft Launching System (EMALS) being conducted by 1st Class Robert McLendon. One of the significant advantages of this system is the smooth acceleration it provides to the aircraft.
Just below the Primary Flight Control is the ship’s bridge, which is also very stunning. Capable of producing 9,900 tons of air conditioning, the bridge also displays an improvement in maintainability and efficiency. The system present in the bridge are fully automated and use highly advanced technology. They use touchscreen interfaces and is reliant on electrical and electronic systems. The only thing which is taken from the past models is the metal wheel connected to the transmission system.
In the image, you can see the Navy personnel giving a demonstration of the ship’s EMALS system. Lt. Cmdr. Jamie Roma on the same lines said,“ISE-2 has been a practice run for us, which is an opportunity most ships don’t get, most ships coming into ISE come right from the shipyard into flight deck certification. For us, it’s been a great advantage where we can actually practice for ISE-3 and flight deck certification.” The reason for Jamie’s confidence is the highly advanced and innovative EMALS system being incorporated in the USS Gerald R. Ford. which provides makes it a beast when it comes to being offensive.
In the image, you can see an ecstatic Susan Ford Bales the sponsor of the ship after seeing a successful test of the electromagnetic catapult conducted by the navy personnel. The catapult weighs a lot less than its previous steam counterparts and surprisingly sees a decrease in both weight and cost. According to some reports, China is also developing a similar system to challenge US Navy and unsettle them from their monopoly over this technology. The world will surely wait for what the U.S. has to offer if China is able to successfully develop the electromagnetic catapult.
Obviously, in order to move the extremely heavy parts of the gigantic ship, a big and powerful crane was the need of the hour. So, Newport News Shipbuilding took the help of “Big Blue”, the name of their crane which seems like an air traffic control tower at first sight. In the image, you can see the magnanimous “Big Blue” in action helping by moving extremely big and heavy parts of USS Gerald R. Ford. There is no chance of the crane committing an error while performing these vital operations as the Newport Shipbuilding has made it sure that it excels in every aspect.
One major change in the current shipbuilding process is that of proceeding with a piece at a time rather than the old method of putting together the structure in one piece from the ground up. The USS Gerald R. Ford is made according to the latest procedure and displays latest design changes from bow to stern enabling the carrier aircraft to fly with improved efficiency and being ready to accommodate unmanned aerial systems. The stern is the sole reason which gives the ship a strategic advantage and a wider and effective platform to perform vital actions on the spur of the moment.
Though the ship is extremely heavy as a whole, the status of being the heaviest component of the USS Gerald Ford goes to the gallery deck to flight deck bridge. It weighs an astounding 2.26 million pounds and houses firefighting, vessel’s jet fuel and catapult systems. Surely, the presence of such vital aspects of the ship is a major contributor to the increased weight of the gallery deck to flight deck bridge. Evidently, special efforts were required on the part of the members of the construction team while making the bridge connecting the deck to flight because of its weight.
The aircraft carrier’s catapults are of extreme importance and strategic importance. It is the basis for the functioning of the ship and being offensive when under enemy fire. In the image, you can see an end of the catapult being placed with the help of a 1,050 metric ton crane. One can judge the enormous weight of the catapult just from the weight of the crane used to lift it. The catapults don’t lag far behind the heaviest component of the ship talked about in the previous slide in terms of weight. There is even a navy catapult officer indicating the significance of this component.