NORFOLK, VA. - As the Navy prepares for the July 22 commissioning of the Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, 13News Now has prepared a series of special reports to commemorate the historic event.
All this week on 13News Now at 6, we'll tell you about the ship, and the man behind the name.
Then on the day before the ceremony, you can watch the 30 minute show, "Gerald R Ford, A Legacy of Service." It airs Friday, July 21 at 3:30 p.m.
Two years later than planned and at a $12.9 billion price tag, the vessel cost 23 percent more than hoped for. Still, the Ford will become the nation's newest, most advanced aircraft carrier ever.
The ship will feature an all new electromagnetic launch system. It's been the subject of some controversy, with President Trump saying it's so advanced it requires "Einstein to figure it out."
But the system is projected to launch up to 240 planes per day, instead of the current 150. That enhanced "sortie" rate could be a game-changer.
"And that's really what it's all about, getting the number of assets overhead, to protect the guy on the ground," said the Ford's commanding officer, CAPT Rick McCormack.
Our program will focus on Ford, the ship, and on Ford, the man.
Among those weighing in: former Virginia Congressman Bill Whitehurst, who served with Ford in the House of Representatives. Whitehurst said Ford served the nation well, when Richard Nixon resigned the presidency, and Ford became the 38th president.
"Right man, right time," he said. "We had this terrible scandal. He is a man who came in who had briefly been vice president, but a long career in the House of Representatives. He was minority leader, head of his own party, and therefore, someone who brought to the White House what was needed: Restoration and respect for the presidency. And Gerald Ford did that."
The show will also look at the men and women who built the ship. Reporter Steven Graves will feature the workers at Newport News Shipbuilding.
Anchor Andre Senior will focus upon the enormous impact that the shipyard has on the Hampton Roads economy.
Our partners at WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan will profile what it means to citizens in Ford's home state, to have the 96,000-ton warship named after their native son.
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