The USS Gerald R. Ford, America’s newest and most advanced super carrier, is set to be commissioned into active duty on Saturday, after years of construction and testing.  As the crew of the Ford prepares for the event, they’ve offered the media an opportunity to get a sneak peek into the operations of the most expensive warship ever made.

“This ship can basically drive itself,” Petty Officer 1st Class Jose Triana said from the captain’s chair in the aircraft carrier’s pilot house.  A touchscreen navigation display in front of him has replaced the throttle systems employed on earlier carriers to maneuver the ship.  This seemingly significant departure from traditional methods of powering and steering the vessel is just one of the many upgrades the $13 billion vessel can boast over its predecessor, the similarly sized Nimitz class carriers that have long served as the pride and joy of America’s Navy.

Despite not being too far off from the ten Nimitz class carriers already employed by the Navy in terms of size, this new generation of aircraft carrier is a completely new design; America’s first in forty years.  All of the changes are intended to improve the standard of living for those on board, enhance the carrier’s combat capabilities, and incorporate automation to reduce the overall personnel requirement to man the ship.

“One primary difference is the crew composition,” said the ship’s executive officer, Capt. Brent Gaut. “We’ve worked a great deal to automize a lot of what we do.”