Building our Legacy

    “I christen thee United States Ship Gerald R. Ford.” Susan Ford Bales, President Ford’s daughter and the ship’s sponsor, spoke these words in front of approximately 20,000 Sailors, shipbuilders and civilians as she broke a bottle of sparkling wine over the bow of the ship Nov. 9, 2013.

    The christening ceremony is a centuries-old tradition that helped tie the world’s newest and most technologically advanced warship to its roots, while still pointing firmly toward the future.

    Logistics Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Tiffany McMahon, from the ship’s supply department, started her career aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). The differences between the two classes of ships can be a bit stark.

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) transits the James River during the ship's launch and transit to Newport News Shipyard.

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) transits the James River during the ship’s launch and transit to Newport News Shipyard.

    “On the Ford … it’s just awesome walking around and seeing how everything just kind of flows.” She admits that when she first checked on board the pre-commissioning unit (PCU), it didn’t all make sense, but it became clear for things like stores elevators (Ford is designed with 10, reaching forward to aft), which run from the hangar bay to storerooms below the main deck, smartly-designed in complexes clustered in the vicinity of the elevators.

    After a few trips to the ship she realized “Okay, now this makes sense. It’s actually kind of cool to be in this type of environment.”

    She quickly realized how much these stores elevators help reduce some of the Sailor power required to move material throughout the ship. Included are a utility elevator unique to the Ford class, which runs from the flight deck to the hangar bay, and an elevator that services the post office.

    For any Sailor who has had to move something from the hangar bay up or down seven decks, these elevators are a welcomed addition.

    The Ford class is designed with significant quality-of-life improvements including: a 25-percent increase in freshwater generation afforded by two completely redesigned reactors, 250 percent more electrical capacity than previous carriers, newly designed advanced weapons elevators that eliminate the need for weapons transfer across the mess decks, a 100-percent increase in air conditioning plant capacity, two conglomerate galleys instead of the traditional five on board Nimitz-class carriers, and smaller berthing compartments for the entire crew.

    Ford also has a completely redesigned flight deck with Electromagnetic Aircraft Launching Systems and Advanced Arresting Gear, significantly increasing the ship’s ability to launch and recover aircraft.

    Sailors reporting to the command are arriving in a phased approach. Ultimately supply department will top out at 280 personnel, a 128-Sailor reduction from Nimitz-class carrier supply departments—a reduction only possible because of the new technological advancements installed aboard the ship.

    Ford’s first supply department Sailor arrived in April 2013, and since then the department has helped to achieve several significant milestones such as: Gerald R. Ford Ship’s Store Grand Opening Aug. 2, providing the very first crew-created cake for a ceremony commemorating the ship’s 500th Sailor Oct. 9 (thank you Culinary Specialist 1st Class Jeremy Dunaway), frocking Ship’s Serviceman 2nd Class (SW) Bernice Hannah to petty officer 1st class Jan. 13, opening a command post office March 4, and providing the opportunity for Logistics Specialist Seaman Glenn Daniels to train and earn both his Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) and Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist (EAWS) pins while on temporary duty to USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) for deployment.

    As the crew continues toward the milestone of setting sail on the U.S. Navy’s first aircraft carrier class in more than 40 years, they look to set a high standard that will endure for the life of the ship. They will do that through training, establishing an enduring culture of safety, and a command climate built on professionalism, respect and integrity.

    “I couldn’t be more proud of the culture we’re building on Gerald R. Ford and within Supply Department,” said Cmdr. Kristin Acquavella, Gerald R. Ford’s supply officer. “These Sailors are first-round draft picks who embrace our responsibility to build this department from the ground up and arm our Sailors with the absolute best training and resources to succeed. We have never lost sight that the decisions we are making today will impact this ship’s ability to deploy years from now. We are building the command we have always wanted.”

From PCU Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Public Affairs