US Navy rolls out new aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford for sea trials

A handout photo from the US Navy shows the USS carrier Gerald R. Ford underway on its own power for the first time on April 8, 2017.
A handout photo from the US Navy shows the USS carrier Gerald R. Ford underway on its own power for the first time on April 8, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

NEWPORT NEWS - The USS Gerald R. Ford, the first of the US Navy's new class of aircraft carriers, embarked on its maiden sea trial last Saturday (April 8).

It departed from the Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia's Newport News with more than a thousand Navy sailors onboard, US media reported.

Costing US$12.9 billion (S$18.2 billion) to build, the state-of-the-art carrier was dogged by delays - due to issues with its advanced systems, including aircraft landing equipment and power generation - and budget overruns.

Construction started in 2009 and was supposed to be completed by September 2015, at a cost of US$10.5 billion.


Sailors aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford man the rails as the ship departs Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding. PHOTO: AFP 

About 5,000 shipbuilders were involved in building the carrier, which weighs 100,000 tonnes and has a five-acre flight deck capable of holding 75 aircraft.

It can reach speeds of up to 30 knots (56kmh) and is capable of launching 220 airstrikes per day from its two runways.

The carrier is due to return to port in Virginia after its trial, and will set sail again for "acceptance trials" conducted by Navy inspectors, according to CBS News.


The "builder's trials" will be a comprehensive test of many of the ship's key systems and technologies. PHOTO: EPA 

Under the current schedule, the carrier will not be combat-ready until 2021.

There are two other carriers in the Ford class - the USS John F. Kennedy and the new USS Enterprise.