March 4 (UPI) — Carrier Strike Group 12 has assumed operational control of the USS Gerald R. Ford, which begins flight deck certification this month off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia, the Navy has announced.
“I appreciate the diligence and speed that are being applied by all hands to ‘Make FORD Ready,'” Acting Secretary of Navy Thomas B. Modly said in a press release. “The updates I received at last week’s Ford Summit demonstrate the commitment of our people to accelerating our progress in the right direction. To help us proceed expeditiously I look forward to bringing on the first FORD carrier strike group commander that will bring us into future operations and set the standard for the class.”
The Ford, which completed a 16-day compatibility testing exercise in February, is the first ship of the Navy’s newest class of aircraft carrier.
Intended to replace the Nimitz carrier class, the Ford has been troubled by cost overruns and delays due to functionality issues, including major problems with its electromagnetic elevators.
According to the Navy, final construction of the vessel’s advance weapons elevators is underway, and all of the aircraft types expected to make first deployment are certified to conduct flight operations on the ship.
“We’re extremely excited to have Gerald R. Ford join Carrier Strike Group 12 as she prepares for Flight Deck Certification this month, an important milestone on her way to becoming a fully operational aircraft carrier,” said CSG-12 commander Rear Adm. Michael E. Boyle. “I know the ship has already achieved many milestones during her Post Delivery Test and Trials, and I believe Ford’s leadership and support system will continue that forward progress.”