Captain John Meier, the first Commanding Officer of the USS Gerald R. Ford CVN 78 Aircraft Carrier, presented “Creating a Culture of Excellence” at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library as he assembles the first crew of the Ford. CVN 78 is the first ship of the new Ford Class of Carriers.
Former Commanding Officer of the Michigan ROTC Unit US Navy Captain Rick Vanden Heuvel (Ret.) introduced Captain Meier and highlighted the advancements of the Ford compared to previous aircraft carriers. Captain Heuvel also acknowledged that the mere presence of this new ship will change world events and policies by simply being a part of the US Navy.
Captain John Meier is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and is a former aviator, with over 4000 hours of aircraft flight. Captain Meier was joined at the Library by members of CVN 78 who are originally from Gerald R. Ford’s home state of Michigan. He also touched on Trustee Susan Ford Bales’ involvement in the construction and completion of the ship as well as the various technological advancements of the Ford.
Captain Meier described the ship’s patch and its symbolism which included: 38 stars around the outside circle, 26 of them gold for the USS Monterey CVL 26, the ship Gerald R. Ford served on during World War II; the compass’ due north fleur-de-lis is in honor of Ford becoming a boy scout and later an eagle scout; and the ship’s motto “Integrity at the Helm” is a reflection of Ford’s life and what he hopes the ship and crew will emulate as members of the USS Gerald R. Ford.
Captain Meier believes the biggest challenge he faces is bringing his new team together, “which must start from the start.” How they welcome their crew will help indoctrinate them into the culture he is working to establish. Captain Meier “would rather take great character sailors and then build on the work part as character is the foundation” that he wants to build his team upon. He also is committed to procedures that are fair and similar for all sailors, as Captain Meier wants everyone to be treated the same.