The USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) is the first in its class of nuclear-powered supercarriers. It was the largest aircraft carrier in the world when completed in 2017.
Before visiting her at her home port in Norfolk, Virginia, you need to know about this impressive vessel. See how many facts you already know!
And learn more about your upcoming visit before you go with this largest aircraft carrier in the world.
What is an aircraft carrier?
First and foremost, aircraft carriers are large ships that serve as floating airfields for jets. These jets can take off from a short runway in an aircraft carrier and don’t need additional support structures.
The largest aircraft carrier in the world has much more space for planes, equipment, and supplies.
In addition, they can carry about 100 planes at a time, about one-third of an entire squadron.
This gives them almost unparalleled flexibility in force deployment and capabilities throughout every mission.
The primary function of aircraft carriers is to provide rapid response capability worldwide while protecting their nation’s interests.
Also, they ensure there is always at least one carrier on station to keep the U.S.-led coalition operations strong across all battlefronts.
How does an aircraft carrier work?
It sounds like a simple question, but it’s not as easy to answer as you might think. The ships are so large (especially USS Gerald R. Ford, the largest aircraft carrier globally) and complex.
In fact, after years of service and constant upgrades, sailors still don’t know everything there is to know about them.
Now, how do they work? Let’s start with an overview of how aircraft carriers function in general. The ship itself is divided into two main sections: The flight deck and hangar bay.
Furthermore, the flight deck is where most of your action will occur, and it’s where the planes land, take off and are repaired when necessary.
The hangar bay is where planes are stored when they aren’t used or being worked on by mechanics. It also serves as temporary quarters for sailors who need a place to sleep between shifts or missions.
The largest aircraft carrier in the world –USS Gerald R. Ford
Taking a tour through the largest aircraft carrier in the world –the USS Gerald R. Ford, is quite impressive. However, it is much smaller than other carriers in active service.
The Navy reports that it is big enough to carry over 5,500 people and more than 80 aircraft.
In addition, with a $13 billion price tag (over $4 billion over budget), it is poised to be one of America’s most formidable weapons.
It entered service in 2016 (she has yet to be commissioned). Let me show you around. Here are some cool facts about the largest aircraft carrier in the world– USS Gerald R. Ford.
It is almost as long as two football fields lay end-to-end (1,092 feet/333 meters), with a flight deck covering 4.5 acres (1.8 hectares).
There are enough rooms for more than three dozen football fields side by side.
Features of USS Gerald R. Ford
The U.S. The Navy’s new $13 billion largest aircraft carrier globally features a dizzying array of technology, and the first includes a new propulsion system and electromagnetic launch systems for aircraft.
The following are the best features of the largest aircraft carrier in the world includes;
The elevators will allow F-35C fighters to be carried from hangar to flight deck level in one trip. This reduces the time and workforce required compared with current carriers by 75 percent.
Likewise, the elevators can also quickly move other planes within storage areas of the ship. It protects them from bad weather or enemy fire.
Also, two massive 80-ton aircraft elevators carry as many as 12 fully loaded F/A-18E/F Super Hornets. And four EA-18G Growlers, two E2D Hawkeyes, or two MV-22 Ospreys at once.
Electromagnetic Launch System (EMALS)
Carriers use steam catapults to fling fighter jets into the air, and EMALS uses electricity instead of steam. Electromagnetic catapults shorten takeoff distances and require less maintenance than current ones do. More importantly, EMALS can launch a broader range of fighter jets at faster speeds.
By replacing older technology with newer, more advanced tech that requires fewer people to operate it. The U.S. Navy saves money on both operating costs and training requirements.
Advanced Weapons Elevator
This elevator stores weapons inside special compartments on the upper deck of each island structure. Then lowers them through hatches to waiting arms handlers below;
Automated Ammunition Handling Equipment (AAHE)
AAHE allows munitions handlers on lower decks to load bombs onto aircraft without seeing them. These machines weigh thousands of pounds apiece.
But can also travel between decks without any assistance via conveyor belts that span hundreds of feet across compartments inside a ship’s hull. In addition, there are designs designed to reduce risk and improve safety during high-volume operations like combat.
Auxiliary Machinery Space
It reduces risk and increases flexibility. Also, Ships’ auxiliary machinery spaces have been moved from their traditional locations deep inside ships’ hulls to shallower areas closer to their waterlines. If there’s flooding in these spaces, much less water would need to be pumped out before repairs could begin.
Catapult & Arresting Gear Rooms
This largest aircraft carrier globally has a catapult and arresting gear room. Catapult rooms house equipment used for catapult launches. Its arresting gear rooms store equipment used for arrested landings aboard a carrier.
These spaces are located in a single, centralized location rather than scattered throughout a ship. Additionally, the change will make carrier maintenance more accessible and cheaper.
Crew members eat at mess stations instead of standard tables and chairs. Here, it shows computer screens for ordering food and drink from a menu.
Cameras monitor these stations to ensure it follows proper food-safety procedures. Crew members can order anything from pizza to sushi or even steaks prepared to their liking. Crew Quarters: Each crew member has a private cabin with a bed, desk, shower, and bathroom area.
The story behind the USS Gerald R. Ford’s creation
The future aircraft carrier has been in development for nearly a decade and was ready for action sometime around 2020. This will boast some pretty impressive specifications and those trademarked good looks.
To name just a few: It will be home to four nuclear reactors, each able to generate up to 78 megawatts of electricity. Produce approximately 400,000 gallons of fresh water per day. Also, have so much hangar space that it can carry 75% more combat aircraft than its predecessors.
And again, support a crew of 4,660 sailors (over three times larger than on previous carriers). And for self-defense purposes? Well, it will come equipped with two rail guns capable of firing projectiles at seven times the speed of sound.
There are all sorts of high-tech gadgets and gear on board that make life easier for everyone aboard. Like computerized radar-jamming equipment, an electromagnetic catapult system launches planes off the deck instead of steam catapults.
New arresting gear systems to help planes land safely on deck even during high seas or strong winds.
Lastly, advanced weapons elevators are designed to move munitions from storage areas deep within the ship to flight deck stations.
These details must have added up to something beautiful, and we think you’ll agree once you see it in person—the largest aircraft carrier in the world. The USS Gerald R. Ford is a truly gorgeous one.
Cost of this USS Gerald R. Ford
It costs almost $14 billion as of 2014. Gerald R. Ford, the largest aircraft carrier globally, is expected to have a service life of at least 50 years.
This means that an average cost per year over its lifetime is about $285 million, or about $52 million per year for maintenance and upgrades.
Meanwhile, the operating costs vary widely depending on how many missions fly each year. Also, it depends on the kind of technology installed on board. But there’s no doubt that it will be one expensive ship to maintain.
Carriers also represent one of the U.S. country’s best value for money. This is because of their immense capability to project power around the world.
Each carrier strike group contains up to 90 combat jets, which means they can also do much good in humanitarian situations where civilian airfields may not be available.
In other words, even though carriers cost billions of dollars to build and millions more every year to keep running, they’re still probably worth it.