USS Gerald R. Ford One Step Closer to Launch

Posted at 9:25 PM, Jan 26, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-26 22:43:29-05

Construction of the CVN 78 began in August of 2005. It’s now known as the USS Gerald R. Ford.

Saturday morning, the ship’s builder put one of the final touches on top of the carrier.

The “island” of the aircraft carrier houses the command center. At a ceremony, the island was placed in position on the USS Gerald R. Ford, in Newport News, Virginia.

In attendance were members of the Ford family. Susan Ford Bales took to the podium and first showed appreciation to the construction crew.

“Thank you for your extraordinary work. You are a national treasure. Thank you very much,” the crowd clapped.

Bales is the daughter of the 38th U.S. president. She set a piece of sandstone embedded with coins under island. She placed it there for good measure. Sandstone is the same material used to build the White House.

The ship’s prospective commanding officer, Capt. John Meier, said the 13 billion dollar ship is the first of the Ford-class series.

The series is a new line of carriers with advanced technology. “[It has] electric rail catapults, new and advanced arresting gear, dual ban radar that give the island that unique flat sided structure,” Meier said.

“Those are just a few of the advancements but I can assure you, virtually everything but the skin of the ship is new and different on board Gerald R Ford,” he added

Meanwhile back home, in President Ford’s hometown, a painting of the carrier is on display at the Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids.

“He was made aware of the naming of this carrier, before he passed away in December of 2006 and it was a very proud moment for him,” Don Halloway, the curator said.

With the placement of the island, the company behind the project said the ship is now 90 percent complete.

The ship is scheduled to launch this July and is to be delivered to the Navy in 2015.