It's been more than decade in the making. But, this weekend the United States Navy will commission the USS Gerald R. Ford during a ceremony at the Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia.

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is the lead ship in the Ford Class Aircraft Carrier series. It represents the first new design of carriers in more than 40 years. The USS Ford and the class of super carriers are named in honor of the United State's 38th president, Gerald R. Ford.

The USS Ford is described as a "floating city." It has a 5-acre flight deck, holds 75 aircraft and holds 4,660 personnel onboard.

The commissioning ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 22nd. The Ford Presidential Museum has invited the public to join in the celebration by attending a free live-viewing event at the museum that morning.

“We’re excited for this opportunity to share the commissioning ceremony with the Grand Rapids community,” said Joe Calvaruso, Gerald R. Ford Foundation executive director. “We are thankful for the community’s continued support honoring President Ford’s legacy.”

The viewing will begin at 9:30 a.m. and last until 12 noon. It will include a presentation by Patrick Walsh, a retired U.S. Navy four-star admiral, who last served as commander of the Pacific Fleet.

Other activities, sponsored by Spartan Nash, include:

  • An American Red Cross blood drive on site (10 a.m.–3p.m.),

  • Toy boat races in the Museum’s fountain,

  • Letter writing to seaman aboard the U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford,

  • Performances by the Salvation Army Brass Band,

  • Games and activities to be led by individuals from the Salvation Army Kroc Corps Community Center,

  • Refreshments including a giant cupcake flag.

The Ford Presidential Museum is located at 303 Pearl St. NW in Grand Rapids.

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