Gerald R. Ford-Class (Aircraft Carrier)

The Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers (or Ford-class) are a class of supercarrier for the United States Navy, intended to eventually replace the current Nimitz-class carriers. The new vessels will use a hull design similar to the Nimitz carriers in appearance, but many aspects of the design will be different, implementing new technologies developed since the initial design of the previous class (such as the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System), as well as other design features intended to improve efficiency and running costs, including a reduced crew requirement. The first hull of the line will be named Gerald R. Ford and will have the hull number CVN-78.

Name: Gerald R. Ford–class aircraft carrier
Builders: Newport News Shipbuilding
Operators:  United States Navy
Preceded by: Nimitz-class aircraft carrier
Building: 2
Planned: USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78)
USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79)
USS Enterprise (CVN-80) 
7 more ships (currently unnamed)
General characteristics
Type: Aircraft Carrier
Displacement: Approximately:
100,000 long tons
101,600 tonnes
112,000 short tons
Length: 1,106 ft (337 m)
Beam: Flight deck: 252 ft (77 m)
Waterline: 134 ft (41 m)
Draft: 39 ft (12 m) 
Propulsion: 2 A1B nuclear reactors
Speed: In excess of 30 kn (56 km/h; 35 mph)

Officers: 508

Enlisted: 3789 
Armament: Anti-air missiles:
2 x RIM-162 ESSM
2 x RIM-116 RAM
2 x Phalanx CIWS
4 x M2 12.7mm machine guns
Aircraft carried: 75+
Aviation facilities: 1,092 × 256 foot (333 × 78 m) flight deck

Carriers of the Ford class will incorporate design features including:

  • Advanced arresting gear.
  • Automation, which reduces crew requirements by several hundred from the Nimitz-class carrier.
  • The updated RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow missile system.
  • AN/SPY-3 dual-band radar (DBR), as developed for Zumwalt-class destroyers.
  • An Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) in place of traditional steam catapults for launching aircraft.
  • A new nuclear reactor design (the A1B reactor) for greater power generation.
  • Stealth features to help reduce radar profile.
  • The ability to launch about 90 total aircraft, including the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G Growler, Grumman C-2 Greyhound, Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye, and Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II, Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk helicopters, and unmanned combat air vehicles such as the Northrop Grumman X-47B.

The Navy believes that with the addition of the most modern equipment and extensive use of automation, it will be able to reduce the crew requirement and the total cost of future aircraft carriers. The primary recognition feature compared to earlier supercarriers will be the more aft location of the navigation "island." The relocation of the "island" will enable the carrier to sustain 140–160 sorties per day with a surge capability of 220 sorties.

Ships in class

There are expected to be ten ships of this class. To date, three have been announced:

Ship Hull Number Laid down Launched Commissioned Scheduled To Replace
Gerald R. Ford
13 November 2009
November 2013
Enterprise (CVN-65)
John F. Kennedy
Nimitz (CVN-68)
Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69)


The information contained on this page is unclassified, approved for public dissemination and is released under CC-BY-SA Licensing Agreement.