The first of the US Navy’s new class of aircraft carriers, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), is embarking on its first operational deployment five years after it entered service.
The carrier will begin the deployment from Norfolk on October 3, and will operate in the Atlantic area of operations.
It should be noted that the carrier’s long-awaited maiden deployment will be a short one, and will see the ship complete a set of maneuvers with allies. A real, “global” operation is expected to take place in 2023.
Ford is the flagship of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group (GRFCSG) and their first operational deployment will include air, maritime, and ground assets from NATO allies and partner nations.
Along with allies and partners, the GRFCSG will focus training on air defense, anti-subsurface warfare, distributed maritime operations, mine countermeasures, and amphibious operations.
“The USS Gerald R. Ford CSG will deploy, integrating with allies and partners, to demonstrate its unmatched, multi-domain, full-spectrum lethality in the Atlantic,” said Adm. Daryl Caudle, commander, US Fleet Forces Command. “This trans-Atlantic deployment will strengthen our relationships, capacity, and trust to forge a more peaceful and prosperous world by leveraging the ‘One Atlantic’ Command and Control Concept.”
“This deployment is an opportunity to push the ball further down the field and demonstrate the advantage that Ford and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 bring to the future of naval aviation, to the region and to our allies and partners,” said Rear Adm. Gregory Huffman, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12.
The deployment involves approximately 9,000 personnel from nine nations, 20 ships and 60 aircraft.
The nine participating nations include Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden.
Ford is deploying after the navy spent much of the ship’s in-service time addressing issues with the myriad new technologies installed on the ship. The carrier finally had all of its 11 Advanced Weapons Elevator (AWE) working in December 2021.
AWE is one of 23 new technologies developed for the carriers, and one of the three more controversial ones that have pushed the first deployment date out to at least late 2022. The other two that have attracted the most attention were the electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS), which is replacing the traditional steam catapults, and the advanced arresting gear (AAG).