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Carrier Ford returns as ship-class work advances

Aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford successfully used its new launching systems for reliable sortie operations during the ship's first official deployment. (Michael Fabey)

US Navy (USN) aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) returned from its first official deployment in late November as shipbuilder HII acknowledged further work on other Ford-class carriers at its Newport News Shipbuilding yard.

Speaking to financial analysts in early November, Christopher Kastner, HII president and CEO, noted the recent keel-laying for the Ford-class Enterprise (CVN 80).

Besides, “CVN 79 [ John F ] Kennedy is moving further into the test programme and began testing of the electromagnetic launch system”, Kastner said during the 3 November call.

The Ford-class Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) was put to the test during CVN 78's first deployment.

Ford , flagship of the Gerald R Ford Carrier Strike Group (GRFCSG), returned on 26 November to Naval Station Norfolk, after successfully completing its inaugural deployment throughout the Atlantic while conducting exercises and port visits with allies and partners.

Ford departed Norfolk on 4 October and travelled more than 9,275 n mile with the GRFCSG. During the deployment, Ford operated with eight allies and partners – Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden – “to strengthen interoperability, while conducting a range of maritime operations and exercises”, USN officials said.

While deployed, the GRFCSG participated in Exercise ‘Silent Wolverine', demonstrating high-end naval warfare and integrated NATO interoperability in the maritime approaches to Europe. ‘Silent Wolverine' provided an opportunity for Ford to train and test capabilities while demonstrating seamless integration with allies and partners, USN officials added.

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