To Friends of the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78),

I hope this finds all well with you and that you’re somewhere pleasantly away from the summer heat!

Work on the USS Gerald R. Ford continues to proceed in terrific fashion. I recently received an update from the ship’s Commanding Officer Captain Rick McCormack. The CO is excited with the ship’s progress. Testing of the various systems and crew departments is ongoing. The performance of those systems and the enthusiasm of the crew are outstanding. Needless to say, Dad would be very proud.

As you may have seen in news reports, three of the Ford’s systems (which are brand new to U.S. aircraft carriers) are undergoing some additional tests. This isn’t at all surprising, especially when considering similar testing times for previous new aircraft carrier systems.

Earlier this week, the shipbuilders and crew successfully tested the on the carrier. PALS is a radar system that provides final approach and landing guidance to aircraft to ensure successful landings on the flight deck. A special instrumented F-18 Super Hornet flew within about 500 feet of the Ford 10 times during the testing. They verified the system’s proper functionality, alignment, and operation of the PALS equipment and its subsystems. An early version of the PALS technology is used on Nimitz-class carriers. But the Ford’s system is a brand new modification and upgrade that must accommodate the new island location on the Ford Class (much further aft) and other design and technology changes. The dual band radar, also new to the Ford class, supported testing of the PALS. Hats off to the crew and especially to my fellow Newport News Shipbuilders for a job very well done. As I’ve observed many times, Dad’s namesake carrier is the mightiest ship ever built because of a simple fact: the Newport News Shipbuilders are the greatest shipbuilders in the world – period!

A commissioning date is still under consideration. The good news is – the numbers of “moving pieces” to setting the date are much smaller. The pier for the commissioning ceremony has been identified, and lots of planning work is already underway. Of course, as soon as I learn of the decision on a date, you’ll receive an email from me. In the meantime, we’re continuing (with the generous support of so many of you) with design and installation of the Commissioning Committee’s extensive accessions to the ship. And, most importantly, the crew is already directly benefiting from those accessions that are already on board.

NEW USS Gerald R Ford Sponsor Seal (as of 11-15-15)I hope to see you soon. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact me at the above email ddress with any questions you might have.

On behalf of Dad, thank you from the bottom of my heart!

All the best,

Susan Ford Bales
Ship Sponsor, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78)


The video was provided by Huntington Ingalls Industries. Please visit WAVY-TV NBC Hampton Roads, VA to read more about the PALS testing:

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