US & Canada

US Navy christens first Ford-class aircraft carrier

Shipbuilding workers Stephen Gilliland, left, and John Gies, right, prepare the for the christening of the Navy's newest nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford at the shipyard in Newport News, Va., Friday, Nov. 8, 2013
Image caption The Ford-class carrier is expected to save $4bn over 50 years

The US Navy has christened the first of its new Ford-class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

The new super-carrier, which is only 70% complete, is named after late US President Gerald Ford.

It is the first of 10 carriers designed to get more fighter planes into the sky more quickly, but with 1,000 fewer crew members.

The USS Gerald R Ford is reportedly about 22% over budget, at a cost of almost $13bn (£8.1bn, 9.7bn euros).

It comes at a time of growing budget pressures for the US.

The carrier, which will weigh 100,000 tonnes, is reportedly due to be finished in 2016 when sea trials are likely to begin.


The ship is said to be the most technologically advanced aircraft carrier the US has built.

"She is truly a technological marvel," Chief of Naval Operations Adm Jonathan Greenert said.

Mr Ford's daughter, Susan Ford Bales, smashed the traditional bottle of champagne into the ship at a ceremony in Virginia on Saturday.

Former US Vice-President Dick Cheney and former Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld were among those leading tributes to the 38th US president.

"He was a man of courage and solid values... and I know the men and women who sail this ship will bring those same qualities in their service to our nation," Mr Rumsfeld told the audience.

Image caption Susan Ford Bales, daughter of President Gerald Ford, christens the carrier

Delays with the ship's completion mean the US Navy will be reduced to a 10-carrier fleet, following the USS Enterprise's deactivation last year.

Fewer crew members mean the Ford-class carrier is expected to save $4bn (£2.5bn, 3bn euros) over the ship's 50-year life span, according to the ship's website.

It is designed to increase its ability to launch fighter jets and helicopters by 25%, generate more electrical power and allow the use of unmanned drones

Mr Ford, who took office after Richard Nixon quit over the Watergate scandal in 1974, died in December 2006 at the age of 93.

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