USS Gerald R. Ford in Newport News, Virginia. (November 8, 2013)
NEWPORT NEWS, Virginia (WZZM) -- It's hard to imagine a young man from Grand Rapids in the Navy during World War II would ever think that one day, the most advanced aircraft carrier in the world would bear his name.
But the USS Gerald R. Ford is about to be christened.
WZZM 13's Lee Van Ameyde is in Newport News, Virginia to give a first look at the Navy's newest class of aircraft carrier. He spoke Friday with President Ford's daughter, Susan Ford Bales.
"I have gotten to weld, I've gotten to work on the lift system, all different systems of the ship," Susan told Lee. Saturday, she will break a specially made bottle of Founder's beer to christen the multi-billion dollar ship.
The USS Ford has been under construction in Virginia since 2009; the outside is done but lots of work inside remains. The shipbuilders say everything is new
"It has a new propulsion system, three times the electrical power, aircraft landing systems... there is nothing that is not new on this ship," said Matthew Mulherin, president of Newport News Shipbuilding.
The ship includes 10 million feet of electric cable and 4 million feet of fiber optic cable. The USS Ford will produce 400,000 gallons of fresh water everyday; sailors wont have to worry about long showers. The ship kitchen will also produce 15,000 meals a day.
The USS Ford won't be operational until 2016 when Captain John Meier takes the helm.
"As captain, I could not ask for a better role model for the crew; Ford's life was a life of integrity. When you look at what you want in a crew, that is at the top of the list," said Meier. "Although it is a very expensive ship, its a tremendous investment of the national treasury, in terms of resources. But the men and woman who sail here... that the true war fighting capability."
"When you break the bottle, what will you be thinking about, what will be going through your head?" Lee asked Susan Ford Bales. "You taught me well, dad. Thank you."