Building a giant

Building an aircraft carrier takes generations of experience, hundreds of thousands of man hours, years of planning and a steady determination. Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is the product of years of construction, and before that, years of planning and design.

November 19, 2013

21st Century Aircraft Carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Takes First Voyage

Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) was launched into the James River. The first-of-class aircraft carrier was moved to the shipyard's Pier 3, where it will undergo additional outfitting and testing for the next 28 months. Press release

October 11, 2013

Dry Dock Flooded

The dry dock where Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) has been under construction began to flood as Ship's Sponsor Susan Ford Bales pushed a series of buttons that initiated the flow of more than 100 million gallons of water into the dry dock. Press release

October 3, 2013

30-Ton Propellers Installed

Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) has put on significant weight with the installation of four 30-ton bronze propellers. At 21 feet in diameter, each propeller spins to push the aircraft carrier through the water. Press release

August 15, 2013

Final Aircraft Elevator Installed

The elevator, which is used to move aircraft from the hangar bay to the flight deck quickly and safely, is located on the starboard side of the ship. It measures 85 feet long and 52 feet wide and weighs 120 tons, akin to a steam locomotive. Press release

May 8, 2013

100 Percent Structural Completion

After more than three years of structurally erecting the ship, Newport News Shipbuilding celebrated the milestone of reaching 100 percent structural completion of the ship's primary hull. Press release

April 15, 2013

Upper Bow Lift Completes Flight Deck

The upper bow extends the overall length of the carrier to its full size, which is 1,106 feet—equal to a 75-story building lying on its side. Press release

January 26, 2013

Island Lifted Onto Flight Deck

The island, which serves as the command center for flight operations on an aircraft carrier, is lifted onto the flight deck during a special ceremony. It was the 452nd structural lift. Press release

May 24, 2012

Lower Bow Lift Completes Keel

The final keel section of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) was lowered into place. The lower bow is more than 60 feet tall and is one of the heaviest superlifts to be placed on the ship. Press release

April 16, 2012

75 Percent Structural Completion

Structural work on the ship reaches 75 percent completion, marked by 372 of the 495 structural lifts being completed. About 958 of the ship's total 1,092-foot length was in dry dock, and the ship was built up to the flight deck. Press release

August 18, 2011

50 Percent Structural Completion

Structural work on the ship reaches 50 percent completion, marked by 250, about half, of the structural lifts being completed. About 860 of the ship's total 1,092-foot length was in dry dock, and the ship was built up to the main deck level. Press release

November 14, 2009

Keel is Laid

The keel of the ship is laid during a ceremony attended by the Ship's Sponsor Susan Ford Bales, whose initials were welded onto a plate that would later be affixed to the ship. Press release

January 16, 2007

CVN 78 Officially Named Gerald R. Ford

At a special ceremony at the Pentagon, CVN 78 was officially named after President Gerald R. Ford. Ship's Sponsor Susan Ford Bales was in attendance and spoke during the ceremony. Read her remarks

August 11, 2005

First Cut of Steel

One of the first pieces of steel, a 15-ton plate for a side shell unit was cut during a special ceremony to commemorate the event. Press release