Trump brands warship ‘work of art’
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump helped commission the USS Gerald R. Ford on Saturday at a naval base in Virginia and promised additional money to beef up defense.
The president likened the $12.9 billion warship to “an incredible work of art” and boasted about the US labor that went into building a vessel that eventually will house thousands of sailors and crew members.
He was joined in the intensely hot weather by highranking US officials, military officers, sailors and crowds of civilians.
“Wherever this vessel cuts through the horizon, our allies will rest easy and our enemies will shake with fear because everyone will know that America is coming, and America is coming strong,” Trump said.
While praising what he described as an “incredible achievement” in building the Navy’s latest and largest ship, Trump expressed his dissatisfaction with an insufficient input in new military technology and a decline in military readiness under the previous administration.
“It’s been a very, very bad period of time for our military,” Trump told service members as he highlighted his efforts to ask Congress for a $54 billion extra budget for military purposes next year.
“You will get it. Don’t worry about it,” Trump said.
However, the vessel, which is equipped with an advanced electromagnetic jet-launching GeraldR.Ford system, was previously criticized by Trump.
In May, he urged the navy to go back to using steam catapults to launch aircraft because the electromagnetic systems “cost hundreds of millions of dollars more and it’s no good”.
According to the original schedule, the vessel was to be finished in 2015 at a cost of $10.5 billion but the delivery was delayed several times due to technological obstacles and overspending.
Based on the US Navy’s first new aircraft carrier design in 40 years, the 335meter nuclear-powered supercarrier is equipped with the electromagnetic catapults and advanced operational systems t hat allow aircraft to take off and land more quickly.
Besides, the 100,000-ton warship has a larger deck to improve aircraft maneuverability and a repositioned, smaller tower for better visibility. Two nuclear reactors allow the Ford to cruise at a speed of more than 30 knots (about 56 kilometers an hour) and run for more than 20 years without refueling.
There will be a crew of 2,600 sailors on the carrier, about 600 fewer than a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, which is expected to save more than $4 billion over the ship’s 50-year life span, according to the navy.
The vessel, having completed sea trials in April, will go through a series of tests and inspections before going into operation and deployment.
Congressional auditors estimated in a report earlier this month that the follow-up work will take four years and cost an additional $780 million.
will be stationed on the warship, which will save $4 billion over the ship’s lifetime, the navy said.
President Donald Trump arrives on Marine One for the commissioning ceremony aboard the $13 billion USS aircraft carrier at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, on Saturday.