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Ford: The US Navy’s Largest Aircraft Carrier Ever Is Ready for Action

USS Gerald R. Ford
200604-N-QI093-1142 ATLANTIC OCEAN (June 4, 2020) The Ford-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) and the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) transit the Atlantic Ocean, June 4, 2020, marking the first time a Ford-class and a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier have operated together underway. Gerald R. Ford is underway conducting integrated air wing operations and the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group remains at sea in the Atlantic Ocean as a certified carrier strike group force ready for tasking in order to protect the crew from the risks posed by COVID-19, following their successful deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ruben Reed/Released

USS Gerald R. Ford Preparing for Maiden Deployment as Spare Parts Are Now Available: The United States Navy’s first-in-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) is the largest and most advanced warship ever built. One challenge has been ensuring that there are enough spare parts to keep the warship operational as she prepares for her maiden deployment – and the Navy has had to cannibalize some parts from the future USS John F. Kennedy, which is currently under construction.

While the Navy has said that this won’t impact the completion of the next carrier, it certainly hasn’t been seen as an ideal situation for getting CVN-78 out to sea. Ford began her maintenance period last August following the full-ship shock trials, which resulted in some minor damage.

Parts taken from Kennedy have included “HMI screens for stores elevators as well as motor controllers, power supplies, small pumps, limit switches and valve actuators for various systems throughout the ship,” U.S. Navy spokesman Capt. Clay Doss told NavyTimes last November.

The U.S. Navy’s Program Executive Officer for Aircraft Carriers Rear Adm. Jim Downey recently told reporters that it is entirely normal for there to be a parts issue with a new first-in-class warship. There are numerous reasons; including that some systems simply don’t hold up as well as the engineering initially suggested, while other systems require a learning curve with the crew.

The Navy has been ordering additional parts from its vendors, but the service also brought in “subject matter experts” from Newport News Shipbuilding, the lead contractor that oversaw the construction of the carrier, as well as from the individual system vendors to assess the parts that were an issue.

Problems to Address

The lack of appropriate spare parts has been the latest in a series of issues that have plagued the warship as she nears her first deployment, which is now nearly four years behind schedule. However, Ford could still face further delays as it was reported this week that the combat system on the cutting-edge carrier may not be able to defend it from anti-ship missiles.

That could leave the warship vulnerable while at seas.

The sensor systems ‘satisfactorily detected, tracked and engaged the targets’ but the combat system did not engage fully, according to a Pentagon testing office report that has been seen by Bloomberg News.

The five-page document reportedly warned that the ship also suffers from ‘poor or unknown reliability’ of its launch and recovery systems – including its high-tech Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) as well as its Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG). Older aircraft carriers use a steam-driven catapult for propulsion and hydraulic-engine arresting gears, and while the EMALS system was touted to be more reliable, it still apparently needs to have a few kinks worked out.

The Pentagon report found that during 8,157 takeoffs and recoveries conducted last year, the carrier’s new electromagnetic catapult system made by General Atomics demonstrated reliability of 272 launches “between operational mission failure,” or “well below” the required 4,166. Similarly, its system to snag landing aircraft demonstrated a 41-landing reliability rate, which was also “well below the requirement of 16,500.”

Improved Design

As noted in a Congressional Research Service report, “Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class Aircraft Carrier Program: Background and Issues for Congress,” updated last month, “The Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) class carrier design is the successor to the Nimitz-class carrier design. The Ford-class design uses the basic Nimitz-class hull form but incorporates several improvements, including features permitting the ship to generate more aircraft sorties per day, more electrical power for supporting ship systems, and features permitting the ship to be operated by several hundred fewer sailors than a Nimitz-class ship, reducing 50-year life-cycle operating and support (O&S) costs for each ship by about $4 billion compared to the Nimitz-class design, the Navy estimates. Navy plans call for procuring at least four Ford-class carriers—CVN-78, CVN-79, CVN-80, and CVN-81.”

USS Gerald R. Ford Deployment

170408-N-WZ792-198 .NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (April 8, 2017) The future USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) underway on its own power for the first time. The first-of-class ship — the first new U.S. aircraft carrier design in 40 years — will spend several days conducting builder’s sea trials, a comprehensive test of many of the ship’s key systems and technologies. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ridge Leoni/Released)

USS Gerald R. Ford Deployment

Image: Creative Commons.

Given the costs of these supercarriers, it is certainly hoped that the Navy can sort out the problems – and finally see USS Gerald R. Ford headed for her first deployment.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.



  1. Rufus

    January 26, 2022 at 6:36 pm

    I hope the entire crew is made up of lesbians, transgenders, homosexuals and minorities. We can no longer allow white males in the military. They get violent against aggressors.

  2. Anatolio Mamontow

    January 27, 2022 at 9:24 am

    New superb aircraft carrier of the U.S. Navy and ready to be sunk by a russian or chinese missile.

  3. Todd

    January 27, 2022 at 10:31 am

    The defensive armament on these behemoths is pathetic.

    Counting on escort ships for primary defense is a fool’s game on so great a commitment.

    Take one Phalanx out for any one of myriad potential causes and an entire flank is left open hoping against hope that escorts are properly placed and entirely functional.

    What would it really take for a half-dozen or more. Then too…. FOUR .50’s? Ridiculous.

    I know that she’ll not be defending against hordes of kamikaze but damn… READ A NEWSPAPER OR TWO!

  4. John andrews

    January 27, 2022 at 12:09 pm

    Please keep race out of this I must be a racist. So keep it to ur self. U are a fucking bigot. Please are free to be what they want gay and do on
    Just keep the fuck off this page. Remember All Life’s Matter N it Just Black

  5. Bob Jackson

    January 27, 2022 at 3:02 pm

    Make sure we have the woketards at the helm dont needs anyone in command with leadership skills.

  6. TeXan1111

    January 27, 2022 at 5:05 pm

    In this day of ever-increasing amount of sensors and extra sensitivity of each sensors with the increased availability of rockets aren’t these giant ships somewhat of a dinosaur. I know they have a Phalanx gun system but,

  7. lollypoplolita

    January 27, 2022 at 7:47 pm

    John take a deep breath and hold it while counting to one thousand. nobody but you brought race into the discussion. minority doesn’t have to be race, it can be anything from city folks to the woke weirdos and cancel commies but if race is such a trigger for you and you lose control over you vocabulary and have to resort to vile words like the F bomb your point is already lost. most people will stop at the first F Bomb you drop. as to your being racist well that’s your problem just leave it out of here because i don’t want to read your racist rants because frankly they make absolutely no sense to anyone else.

  8. lollypoplolita

    January 27, 2022 at 7:59 pm

    I’m curious how if reliability for the catapults and arresting gear, I’m really curious about how the Chinese who obviously stole the plans for those systems are going to deal with those issues? seems like they would have come up with something better if it was an inhouse design which I doubt irrelevant of their claims nobody decides to start building carriers after buying one and building another to come up with an almost carbon copy of ship and systems as their only organic in-house carrier that’s nuclear. Russia, England and France deemed them to complicated and expensive to maintain for their needs. I am itching to see their end product as they attempt to become a true blue water navy.

  9. Karl R Maier

    January 27, 2022 at 11:40 pm

    For the price of an aircraft carrier battle group w/60-90 aircraft, America could field 1,000 drones that are more mobile, flexible, and expendable. Losing even 1 aircraft carrier could cost America more than just a battle. It takes $15 billion, plus more than a decade, to replace a carrier and the thousands of sailors are priceless.

  10. Lsi

    January 28, 2022 at 7:10 am

    The good old US Navy, still planning to fight the last war. Big aircraft carrier, big target!

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