USS Gerald R Ford: On board the world's biggest warship

Forces News has been on board the US' brand new aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R Ford, which has been moored in the Solent, near Portsmouth.

The home of the Royal Navy was chosen as the ship's first stop away from the US, having only just started operational service

As the biggest warship in the world, the USS Gerald R Ford is the first in a whole new Ford Class which will eventually replace the famous Nimitz class. 

We took a tour of the ship, which is packed full of new technology.

She has 23 major systems on board that are new and updated.

USS Gerald R Ford's Commanding Officer, Captain Paul Lanzilotta called the warship a "bad-ass", adding: "It's a really great system of systems, high technology is everywhere you walk on the ship."

The US's newest aircraft carrier cost around $13bn (£11.5bn) to build, considerably more than the £3.2bn cost of the Royal Navy Flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth.

HMS Queen Elizabeth vs USS Gerald R Ford: How do they compare?

A Floating City

One of the biggest changes on the USS Gerald R Ford is the method in which it goes about getting planes airborne.

It is still a catapult system, but it is no longer steam-powered. Instead, an electromagnetic launch system propels the planes into the air, going from static to airborne at 100 knots plus, depending on the plane, in just a few seconds.

Systems across the carrier have been rethought to be more efficient - for instance, there are now electromagnetic energy-fuelled lifts.

These lifts now require fewer people to operate than the older class and also can carry more. USS Gerald R Ford can move a safe working load of 24,000lbs in comparison to the previous 10,000 on the old class.

Measuring in at 337m (1,106ft) from front to back and with a 78 metres width of a flight deck, the warship is huge.

Planes taking off from USS Gerald R Ford using electromagnetic launch system 17112022 CREDIT BFBS
USS Gerald R Ford uses an electromagnetic launch system to propel its planes into the air.

There are 24 decks on board, housing a total crew of 4,539 sailors and aviators.

"I would absolutely call this a floating city. It has anything you can ask for, that I would get on land but on board a ship," Ensign Paula Nederland said.

"Whether I want to get a coffee, a Starbucks coffee - we call it Mac's coffee shop - or I need to go to the gym or make a medical appointment."

She added: "It's remarkable how this place models after a town or a city."