U.S. president Donald J. Trump commissioned the U.S. Navy’s most expensive ship ever built, the USS Gerald R. Ford, in a ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk on Saturday.
The commissioning ceremony for the navy’s new aircraft carrier was attended by a crowd of 10,000 who watched the festivities from the hangar bay, the pier and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69).
Trump landed on the carrier’s flight deck in Marine One and was greeted by secretary of defense James Mattis, acting secretary of the Navy Sean Stackley, chief of naval operations Adm. John Richardson, and USS Gerald R. Ford commanding officer Capt. Rick McCormack.
“Wherever this vessel cuts through the horizon, our allies will rest easy and our enemies will shake with fear because everyone will know that America is coming and America is coming strong,” said Trump. “Our true strength is our people. Our greatest weapon is all of you. Our nation endures because we have citizens who love America and who are willing to fight for America.”
Stackley also addressed the crowd.
“So skipper, as we marvel at the technology and the daunting numbers that measure this ship, never lose sight that in times of crisis, you will be the first to respond, and when called upon, you will deliver the final word in the bidding of our nation,” said Stackley. “Whenever you sail, wherever you sail, you will be a symbol of Unites States resolve and you will be a symbol of the man whose name you bear.”
After the ship’s sponsor and president Ford’s daughter Susan Ford Bales gave the traditional command to “Man our ship and bring her to life,” Ford sailors ran up the brows and manned the rails as the band played “Anchor’s Aweigh.”
After the ceremony, the ship was opened to the general public for tours, which included the flight deck, the commanding officer’s in-port cabin, pilot house, mess decks, fo’c’sle, and the newly opened tribute room.
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is the lead ship in the Ford-class of aircraft carrier, the first new class in more than 40 years, and will begin the phased replacement of Nimitz-class carriers.
CVN-78 honors the 38th president of the United States and pays tribute to his lifetime of service in the Navy, in the U.S. government and to the nation. During World War II Ford attained the rank of lieutenant commander in the Navy, serving on the light carrier USS Monterey (CVL 26). Ford became president in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal and served in the country’s highest office from 1974-1977.