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Navy Christens New Carrier

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The Navy christened its first new-design aircraft carrier Nov. 8 but it will be at least two years before the USS Gerald R. Ford is delivered to the Navy. The ship, which is the first of a series of Ford Class carriers, got the traditional wine bottle across the bow from the late president's daughter Susan Ford Bales as it got ready for its formal launch and a short trip to the fitting out berth in the Newport News shipyard. Planning for the carrier began more than a decade ago and it has been under construction for four years. The drydock was flooded Oct. 11. The carrier will hold more aircraft, including drones, and be able to launch and recover them up to 25 percent faster than the Nimitz class carriers that were launched in the 1970s.

The ship is 1,092 feet long and will use electromagnet launch catapults along with redesigned jet blast deflectors that will make the faster turnarounds possible. A more efficient aircraft fueling system will also add to the efficiency. It will, of course, have state-of-the-art radar and control systems in the redesigned island, which is set farther back than earlier designs. Powering all this will be two nuclear reactors that will generate 250 percent more power than the Nimitz ships. The ship is expected to cost about $12.8 billion.

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