Island Landing USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78)
On January 26, 2013, the Island Landing Ceremony of the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) took place at the Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) in Newport News, Virginia. The ceremony represents a significant milestone in the structural completion of the ship. The island will serve as the command center for flight deck operations aboard the first of the next-generation Ford Class of aircraft carriers.
Susan Ford Bales, the ship’s Sponsor, was joined by Rear Admiral Ted Branch, Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic; Captain John Meier, USS Gerald R. Ford’s first commanding officer; and NNS President Matt Mulherin.
Susan described her memento: “My memento is a piece of sandstone from the same sandstone used in the construction of the White House and U.S. Capitol. Embedded into it is a personal coin I created for this ceremony, together with Dad’s five official seals. Those seals represent Dad’s extraordinary service to our Nation: the Lt. Commander’s oak leaf and the U.S. Navy seal are in tribute to Dad’s distinguished naval service in World War II; the seal of the U.S. House of Representatives honors his twenty-five years of service in the House, the longest of any U.S. President; and the seals of the Vice President and President of the United States represent those two offices in which Dad served with such distinction.”
Captain Meier chose to place his aviator wings under the island. “It’s been a longstanding Navy tradition to place items of significance. I will be placing my wings under the island. To me, they are not only my designation as a naval aviator, but they are symbolic that freedom is not free. They are a constant reminder that freedom requires hard work, integrity, dedication to duty, and even sacrifice in order to maintain our great nation.”