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‘Unfair' to compare new class to Nimitz carriers, says Ford commanding officer

USS Gerald R Ford returned to Norfolk, Virginia, after an eight-month deployment that tested the ship's new technologies. (Janes/Michael Fabey)

During its eight-month deployment that included operations in the Mediterranean, aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) met operational expectations for a new carrier class meant to eclipse the Nimitz-class ships the new vessels are replacing, according to Captain Rick Burgess, Gerald R Ford commanding officer.

“It's not a fair comparison,” Capt Burgess said on 17 January during a pierside briefing with the media, moments after Gerald R Ford docked in its Norfolk, Virginia, home port following its deployment, which had to be extended by 75 days to support operations in the Mediterranean Sea in the wake of the conflict in Israel.

During its 239 days under way, the ship and its crew conducted 43 underway replenishments, logged at least 17,826 flight hours and 10,396 sorties, sailed at least 83,476 n miles, and safely transferred 20.7 million gallons (78.4 million litres) of fuel with no mishaps.

The ship and crew also conducted 33,444 flight deck moves, 3,124 hangar bay aircraft moves, 2,883 aircraft elevators moves, 16,351 aircraft fuelling evolutions and transferred 8,850 pallets of cargo and mail.

These operations put to test the Gerald R Ford's new aircraft launch and recovery systems, weapons elevators, deck design, propulsion plant technology, and an assortment of other new systems and equipment meant to make the carrier move aircraft, supplies, and weapons much more quickly than the Nimitz-class ships.

Capt Burgess and Rear Admiral Erik Eslich, the commander of Carrier Strike Group 12, which was anchored by Gerald R Ford, told reporters during the briefing that the CVN 78's new systems operated as designed.

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