The United States’ newest and most advanced aircraft carrier has embarked on its first deployment to train with allies and patrol the high seas of the Atlantic amid increased tensions across the globe.
The USS Gerald R. Ford began its deployment in the North Atlantic on Tuesday as the lead ship in a carrier strike group that includes six ships from NATO countries, several U.S. warships and a submarine.
“We’re going to use the entire Atlantic as our playpen,” Navy Captain Paul Lanzilotta, the ship’s commanding officer, told reporters ahead of the deployment. “We’re going to be doing pretty much every mission set that’s in the portfolio for naval aviation.”
“America’s biggest and baddest warship,” as the Navy calls it, has nearly two dozen new technologies and a completely redesigned flight deck, which allows it to generate 30% more flights than other U.S. carriers.
Among the nuclear-powered carrier’s new technologies is a brand-new radar system to detect threats and the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) used to catapult aircraft off the ship. Older U.S. carriers use steam-powered catapults, which require a significant amount of space on the ship for steam piping, condensation return and fresh water needed to produce the steam.
The USS Ford is the largest warship in the world displacing 112,000 tons of water, which is 12,000 more tons than the Nimitz-class carriers and 32,000 more than the world’s third-largest warship: China’s new Fujian aircraft carrier.