Trump brands war­ship ‘work of art’

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

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.

CAR­OLYN KASTER / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

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