USS Gerald R. Ford turns ship in another milestone before commissioning

Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), during the beginning of the second day of Fast Cruise. Ford is conducting a three-day Fast Cruise to familiarize the crew with the ship's systems for an extended period of time. Photo: US Navy

U.S. Navy’s next generation aircraft carrier and the most expensive ship it ever built, the Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), completed its turn ship evolution June 11 at Huntington Ingalls’ Newport News Shipbuilding facility.

This operation marks the first time Ford has moved from its pier since coming out of dry dock in November 2013. The ship’s stern now faces the James River.

“Turning the ship is an opportunity for the crew to demonstrate for the first time all the procedures required to get the ship underway safely,” said Commanding Officer Capt. Richard McCormack. “Our new pier position will allow the ship and shipyard team to complete the remaining pierside testing required before our upcoming sea trials.”

This is a major milestone that brings the country’s newest nuclear powered aircraft carrier another step closer to delivery and commissioning later this year.

One of the most important accomplishments of the Turn Ship evolution was a “Sally Test”. A Sally Test involves precision draft readings and confirms that there is adequate stability for safe underway operations at sea.

The successful completion of this evolution required the combined efforts of both ship’s company and shipyard personnel.

“The turning of the ship signals the race to the end,” said Newport News Shipbuilding construction supervisor Shayne Laws. “It’s a massive undertaking that requires teamwork, coordination and precision. From the shipbuilders and sailors on board the ship to the team of tugboats helping in the water, this evolution was a success due to the hard work of everyone involved.”

With this major milestone achieved, Ford and its crew continue to work towards commissioning and becoming mission ready.

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