President Trump addressed the pre-commissioning crew of the USS Gerald R. Ford in Newport News, Virginia on Thursday, calling the newly designed aircraft carrier a fitting tribute to the man whose name it bears.

“President Ford was a Navy man.  By the way, he was also a great athlete, for those of you that didn’t know.  He saw action in the South Pacific during World War II.  He served this country with honor — in the military, in Congress, and in the White House.  The proud dignity of this ship is a fitting tribute to Gerald Ford, the man and the President.”

The USS Gerald R. Ford is to be the first of a new class of aircraft carriers to bear the same name.  Ford class aircraft carriers are based on the Nimitz class carriers currently in service, with added technology and design features throughout intended to reduce crew requirements and increase the ship’s combat effectiveness.  The new series of carriers houses an improved nuclear reactor with three times the energy output allotted to the Nimitz class, leaving plenty of energy bandwidth for the introduction of energy weapons such as anti-missile lasers.  It also incorporates an electromagnetic airplane slingshot, reducing the maintenance, weight, and reload time of the traditional steam-powered slingshot.  This change along will allow Ford Class carriers to execute twenty-five percent more airborne operations per day that its Nimitz class predecessors.

“Congratulations to all of the men and women who helped build it.  This is American craftsmanship at its biggest, at its best, at its finest.  American workers are the greatest anywhere in the world.  This warship, and all who serve on it, should be a source of shared pride for our nation.”  The president said to the crew of ship builders and Navy personnel.

President Trump placed the U.S. Navy at the forefront of his campaign and comments since taking office – calling on the United States to expand our naval fleet from approximately 270 ships to 350; a significant and expensive undertaking, but one that the president and many within the military feel is essential to maintaining dominance over the world’s waterways.

“Our carriers are the centerpiece of American military might overseas.  We are standing today on 4.5 acres of combat power and sovereign U.S. territory, the likes of which there is nothing to compete.  There is no competition to this ship.  It is a monument to American might that will provide the strength necessary to ensure peace.”  The president told those responsible for its construction.

USS Gerald R. Ford, image courtesy of the U.S. Navy

“This ship will carry 4,500 personnel and 70 aircraft, and will be a vital component of our defense.  This carrier and the new ships in the Ford class will expand the ability of our nation to carry out vital missions on the oceans to project American power in distant lands.  Hopefully, its power we don’t have to use, but if we do, they’re in big, big trouble.”

The USS Gerald R Ford is slated to be commissioned later this year, and to see its first deployment in 2021.  The $13 billion vessel is only the beginning, as President Trump has promised to make the American Navy a twelve-carrier fleet – meaning he intends to see at least one more Ford Class carrier unveiled during his tenure in office.