- Nimitz Class Page
SPECIFICATIONS PHOTOGRAPHS (Click on the pictures for an enlarged photo)

Last Updated: December 10, 2015

Designation: CVN
Length: App 1100 ft
Width: 250+ ft
Beam: 135+ ft
Displacement: 102,000 tons
Propulsion: 2 nuclear reactors,
4 shafts
Speed: 30+ knots
Crew: App. 4,600 (includes air crew)
Airwing: 85 fixed, UAV, rotary
- 2 x 08 ESS SAM (16 missiles)
- 2 x 21 RAM SAM (42 missiles)
- 3 x 20mm CIWS Phalanx
- 4 x .50 cal MG
Elevators: 3
Catapaults: 4
Ships in class: 2 building, 10 planned

CVN-78 Gerald R. Ford (Outfit)
CVN-79 John F. Kennedy (Build)
CVN-80 Enterprise (Named)
The USS Gerald R. Ford, CVN-78, was first floated in dry dock on October 11, 2013, and was officially launched and christened on November 9, 2013. She was moved out of her building dry-dock to Pier 3 at Newport News Shipbuilding for outfitting and to thereafter undergo builders and acceptance trials and be commissioned in the 2017 time frame. She conducted dead weight trials of her EMALS catapults in 2015.

The Gerald R. Ford, is the first of class, and her sister ship, second in class, USS John F. Kennedy, CVN-79, is now building and will follow the Gerald R. Ford in five years. The 3rd in class has been named the USS Enterprise, CVN-80, and will follow five years after that. The 4th in class has yet to be named.

The new Ford Class carrier (fomrerly known as the CVN21 Program) has been named after the 40th President of the United States, Gerald R. Ford, who served in the U.S. Navy aboard aircraft carriers in World War II, and who passed away in December 2006. In December 2012, with the decommissioning of CVN-65, USS Enterprise, the Secretary of the Navy announced that the 3rd Ford Class carrier, CVN-80, would be named USS Enterprise. It is expected that 10 of the new class will be built, replacing the US Nimitz class carriers on a one for one basis every 5-6 years. They will be the largest warships ever built and will be the mainstay of the US Navy's power projection and sea lane protetction capabilities throughout the 21st century.

Each of these vessels will carry an airwing of up to 90 fixed wing aircraft, VSTOL aircraft, helicopters, and unamanned arial vehicles (UAV) that is larger and more powerful than many nation's complete air force. By having the resources, the experience, and the capability to operate these vessels (where each vessel is surrounded by an extensive force of other surface and sub-surface combatants that make up each Carrier Strike Group (CSG)), the United States will remain the unchallenged, dominant sea force on earth.

The USS George HW Bush, CVN-77, was christened on October 7, 2006, and replaced the USS Kitty Hawk, CV-63 in 2008. Although officially listed as a Nimitz class carrier, CVN-77 also represents a transformation step in US carrier development from the Nimitz class towards the Ford Class.

Initial steel cutting for the USS Gerald R. Ford was accomplished in August of 2005. The keel laying occurred in late 2009. In January 2013, the new integrated island was lifted onto the deck of the Ford. In May 2013, the last section of the catrapault was lifted, completing the flight deck and placing the vessel at 100% structurally complete and on track for launch. USS Gerald R. Ford, CVN-78, will replace the USS Enterprise, CVN-65, America's first nuclear powered aircraft carrier, which, as stated, was decommissioned in December 2012.

First steel for the second in class, USS John F. Kennedy, CVN-79, was cut in February of 2011 and she had proceeded to a point where she take the yard space that the Ford occupied.

The Ford Class carriers are being built by Newport News Shipbuilding (Renamed Northrup Grumman Shipbuilding), which built the USS Enterprise, and all ten Nimitz class carrirrs.

Diesign Considerations and Featuers:
Among the design innovations and features that the Ford class carriers will introduce are:

  • A much more efficent nuclear reactor system providing three times more power.
  • Electromagnetic aircraft launch and recovery replacing current steam catapaults and current arrestor systems.
  • A redesigned, more efficent, and more stealthy island.
  • More automated systems, providing for reduced manpower requirements and more efficent aircraft weapons handling, battle management, and damage control operations.
  • Potential exotic defensive weapons systems operating off of the increased electrical power.
  • 20% more sortie capability for the embarked airwing.
  • 25% more operational availability of the carrier.
With these innovations, and the many others that will be developed into the new carrier, the US Navy is making a direct statement that its 21st century, next-generation carrier fleet will continue to have as its centerpiece large-deck, nuclear-powered vessels that can project power and protect sea lanes anywhere in the world, at any time.
USS Gerald Ford, CVN-78, Pictures

Executive Officer on the bridge

USS Gerald R. Ford Christening 11/9/15

Sea Sparrow missiles defense

Rolling Air Frame missile defense

Phalanx 20mm CIWS defense

USS Gerald R. Ford, CVN-78, EMALS Test, June 16, 2015

Crew, asssited by contractors, operating EMALS

USS Gerald R Ford EMALS Test Video, June 16, 2015

USS Gerald R Ford Christening Video, November 9, 2013

USS Gerald R Ford Island Lift Video, Jan 26, 2013

USS Gerald R. Ford, CVN-78, Life Aboard 2015
Chow Line in the main mess

Moving equipment aboard through the hangar

Crew births under construction on

More chow in the emain mess

Picture of crew with the vessel in dry dock

Plan for enlisted & Jr. Officer crew birthing

USS Gerald R. Ford, CVN-78, Artists depictions

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Last Update : 10-DEC-2015
Jeff Head is an engineering consultant with many years experience in the power, defense, and computer industries. He currently works for the federal government helping maintain and protect regional infrastructure. He is a member of the U.S. Naval Institute, and is also the author of a self-published and best-selling series of military techno-thrillers called the Dragon's Fury that projects a fictional third world war arising out of current events. You can learn more about that series by clicking on the pictures of the novel covers below:


Copyright © 2005-2015 by Jeff Head


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