The US Navy’s newest and most advanced aircraft carrier left on its first deployment Tuesday from Norfolk, Virginia, designed to put the ship through its paces and exercise with allies in North America and Europe.
The USS Gerald Ford is the first new aircraft carrier designed in “over 40 years,” according to the US Navy. The carrier’s construction formally began in November 2009 and it was commissioned in 2017 by former President Donald Trump, according to a US Navy release.
The ship is the first Ford-class aircraft carrier. The Navy has begun construction on the next two Ford-class carriers, the USS Kennedy and the USS Enterprise.
The aircraft carrier has new, advanced technology including “nearly three times the amount of electrical power,” compared to the Nimitz-class carriers and uses the electromagnetic aircraft launch system, or EMALS, according to the Navy.
The EMALS system uses electric power to launch aircraft off the vessel instead of the previous steam catapult system. The system puts less stress on the aircraft as they are launched from the carrier and will allow for less time between launches, a Navy official said.
The carrier also has dual band radar, which is a more advanced radar system. It is the only forward-class carrier that will have this kind of radar, the official said.
The USS Gerald Ford and the carrier strike group will operate with allies and partners in both the 2nd and 6th fleet areas of responsibility in the Atlantic Ocean and in the Mediterranean Sea, a US Navy official said. The deployment will be shorter than a standard six-month deployment, the official added.
“This deployment is an opportunity to push the ball further down the field and demonstrate the advantage that Ford and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 bring to the future of naval aviation, to the region and to our allies and partners,” Carrier Strike Group 12 Commander Rear Adm. Gregory Huffman said in a statement.
The deployment will involve “approximately 9,000 personnel from nine nations, 20 ships and 60 aircraft,” a US Navy release said. The nations participating in the exercise include the US, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden, the release added.
While the USS Gerald Ford deployed Tuesday, the other ships in the carrier strike group will leave to join the Ford on Wednesday, a second Navy official said. This is common for these deployments.