USS Gerald R. Ford is on a ‘stress test’: As President of the United States (POTUS), Gerald R. Ford visited more than a dozen nations and was only the second leader of the United States to travel to the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China. Yet, he never traveled to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Earlier this week, however, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) made her first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean and arrived in Portsmouth, UK, for a scheduled port visit. The first-in-class aircraft carrier was joined by the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile cruiser USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116).
According to the United States Navy, during the visit, sailors had a chance to experience the rich culture of Portsmouth through morale welfare and recreation tours to popular cultural and historical landmarks around the city. The port visit marked the first stop for the warships while deployed in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe (NAVEUR) area of operations.
“The crew of USS Gerald R. Ford is honored and excited to visit Portsmouth, heart of the Royal Navy, during Ford’s first deployment,” said Capt. Paul Lanzilotta, commanding officer of Ford. “The United Kingdom is a cherished ally. We are here to work together, strengthen our partnership, and give our Sailors the opportunity to explore this beautiful city.”
The coastal city in southern England is no stranger to aircraft carriers and other famous vessels. HMNB Portsmouth, which has been an integral part of the city since 1194, is the home port of the Royal Navy’s two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers. In addition, nearly two-thirds of the Royal Navy’s surface ships operate from the port.
It was from there that the HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible carriers were dispatched to the South Atlantic during the Falkland Islands War in 1982, but also where Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia – seen in the recent season of Netflix’s The Crown – embarked on her final overseas voyage in January 1997.
Due to the size of the supercarrier – which is 1,100 feet long (335 meters) compared to the 918 feet (280 meters) of the Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth – it was decided CVN-78 would anchor in Stokes Bay, off the coast of the town of Gosport, as opposed to pulling up to the pier in Portsmouth.
USS Gerald R. Ford is on her maiden deployment, which began when the U.S. Navy’s largest and most powerful aircraft carrier departed Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, on Oct. 4 for a two-month operational stress test of her new systems and technologies ahead of a full-length deployment next year. The visit to the UK is actually the second international stop for CVN-78, which made the first foreign port call to Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Last week, the Ford Carrier Strike Group participated in exercise Silver Wolverine in the eastern Atlantic with ships from Canada, Denmark, Germany, Spain, France, and the Netherlands. The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group consists of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 2, USS Normandy (CG 60), USS McFaul (DDG 74), and USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116).
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He 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 and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.