President Donald Trump, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and a number of other prominent officials took part in Saturday’s commissioning ceremony for the most advanced, and expensive, warship ever to sail the high seas, the USS Gerald R. Ford. The nuclear powered super carrier, first of a class that will bear its name, is the largest carrier of any nation’s navy and is expected to serve as the new standard for America’s carrier fleet moving forward.
The new carrier, which boasts advanced automation, navigation systems, an upgraded set of nuclear reactors, and improved island and interior design, can operate with an estimated 700 fewer crew members than its predecessor, the Nimitz class of carriers, despite being nearly 3,000 tons larger overall.
“American steel and American hands have constructed a 100,000-ton message to the world: American might is second to none,” President Trump said to the crowd in Norfolk, Virginia.
“Wherever this vessel cuts through the horizon, our allies will rest easy and our enemies will shake with fear because everyone will know that America is coming and America is coming strong,” he said. “This ship is the deterrent that keeps us from having to fight in the first place, but this ship also ensures that if a fight does come, it will always end the same way. We will win… we will never lose.”
The ship itself is named for another president, Gerald R. Ford, the 38th man to hold our nation’s highest office. Ford himself enlisted into the Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and was later commissioned as an officer in the Naval Reserve. During World War II, he served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Monterey that saw combat in the Pacific Theater, including at Makin Island, Kwajalein and the Battle of the Philippine Sea.
Ford would go on to pursue a career in politics that culminated in his appointment as Vice President under Richard Nixon. In 1972, Nixon’s resignation would see Ford taking on the presidency.
Defense Secretary James Mattis called the new carrier a “magnificent warship [that] joins the best Navy in the world. It is named after a tried-and true member of the Greatest Generation, and that spirit will permeate this ship so long as it sails on the seas, as well as the U.S. Navy spirit of ‘We have just begun to fight.’”
President Trump used the opportunity to highlight the Gerald R. Ford as part of the reason Congress needs to pass a defense budget that “provides for higher, stable and predictable funding levels for our military needs, that our fighting men and women deserve.” He went on to say to the crowd of military personnel, “and you will get [it], believe me.”
“When it comes to battle, we don’t want a fair fight,” he said. “We want just the opposite. We demand victory, and we will have total victory, believe me.”
The ceremony was concluded with President Ford’s daughter and ship sponsor, Susan Ford Bales. “There is no one, absolutely no one, who would be prouder of the commissioning of this mighty ship than the president of the United States, Gerald R. Ford,” she said.
Witt that, she gave the order, “Man our ship and bring her to life,” as the flag was hoisted to “Anchors Aweigh” and a sea of salutes.
You can watch the full ceremony below:
Images courtesy of the U.S. Navy