CDR Carl B. Forkner, Ph.D., USN(Ret)
After nearly three decades of naval service, I have had the opportunity to see much of the world, meet men and women who were true heroes, be part of the planning and execution of operations against our enemies, and serve with my brothers and sisters in the our exceptional joint military services. But there is something special about some parts of our naval culture that stand out as being something special–something that you stop what you are doing and to which you have a burning desire to be a part.
July 22, 2017. This morning was the commissioning ceremony for USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) in Norfolk, Virginia. The commissioning of a new ship is a very special event in the Navy, especially in rare cases like today when the lead vessel of a new class of ship is commissioned. It is an event filled with pomp and circumstance that–to Sailors and Marines–nearly rivals the inauguration of a President. Today was one of those special days.
With the wonders of today’s technology, I was able to follow the ceremony on Facebook Live while I was out this morning, and then watching the actual commissioning, hoisting of the Commissioning Pennant and American Flag on the ship’s mast, the order to “man the ship and bring her to life” by Susan Ford Bales–the daughter of World War II naval officer and former President of the United States Gerald R. Ford, the ship’s namesake, and the flying of the Presidential Flag alongside the National Ensign. Even after all these years, commissioning and manning a ship in the United States Navy is an emotional event that wells up memories of serving on 14 ships during my career and the history and legacy of all those who came before and built the Navy into the force it is today–including President Ford.
On 3 January 2007, former United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced that the aircraft carrier would be named after Ford during a eulogy for President Ford at Grace Episcopal Church in East Grand Rapids, Michigan. Rumsfeld indicated that he had personally told Ford of the honor during a visit to his home in Rancho Mirage a few weeks before Ford’s death. This makes the aircraft carrier one of the few U.S. ships named after a living person. Later in the day, the Navy confirmed that the aircraft carrier would indeed be named after the former President. On 16 January 2007, Navy Secretary Donald Winter officially named CVN-78 USS Gerald R. Ford. Ford’s daughter Susan Ford Bales was named the ship’s sponsor. (Wikipedia)
To take a look inside USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), CLICK HERE for the July 21st story and video.
The focus areas of the [relatively short] speeches at the ceremony included not just the ship, but the legacy of President Ford, the special part that the ship’s sponsor–Susan Ford Bales–played, and the efforts and craftsmanship of the roughly 9,000 workers who contributed to the design and construction of the most advanced aircraft carrier in the world. And, finally, the point proudly made that the new carrier is MADE IN THE USA.
Below you will find a slideshow with images captured during the broadcast of the ceremony today. Welcome to the greatest naval fleet in the world, USS GERALD R. FORD!
May God Bless the USS Gerald R. Ford, the men and women who will be sailing in and flying off of her, all the brave Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and Coast Guardsmen who are serving now and have served our country, the United States Navy, and may God Bless the United States of America.
Respectful comments encouraged and welcomed!