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Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group conducts second training at Sea


According to information published by the U.S. Department of Defense on May 5, 2021, the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group (GRFCSG) conducted its second iteration of integrated operations in the Atlantic Ocean, accelerating their watchstanders’ proficiency in the midst of Ford completing the final stages of post-delivery test and trials (PDT&T).
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) steams through the Atlantic Ocean (Picture source: U.S. Department of Defense)


During Ford’s final independent steaming event (ISE 18) of PDT&T, Rear Adm. Craig Clapperton, commander, CSG-12, seized the underway opportunity to execute basic-phase level training, which would typically not occur until a CSG commences work-ups for deployment, with the participation of Ford and all warfare commanders, to include a Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 2 asset recently back from deployment, the guided-missile cruiser USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81).

DESRON-2, embarked on Ford since March 2021, oversaw multiple exercises during ISE 18 as sea combat commander to include a horizon reference unit (HRU) exercise and a simulated strait transit. During the HRU, Churchill took station aft of the Ford at approximately 4,000 yards during night flight operations, and used her navigation lights to provide a visual horizon reference for landing signal officers on the Ford during Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 fixed-wing recovery operations.

The simulated strait transit enabled the strike group to test the individual unit’s tactics and procedures during a transit, and served as an opportunity for leadership to observe the staff’s integration with various components of the entire Strike Group.

The Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is the lead ship of its class of U.S. Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and is named after the 38th President of the United States Gerald R. Ford, Jr., (1913-2006), whose World War II naval service included combat duty aboard the light aircraft carrier Monterey (CVL 26) in the Pacific Theater. Construction began on August 11, 2005, when Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding held a ceremonial steel cut for a 15-ton plate, at the shipyards new heavy-plate bay facility, that will form part of a side shell unit of the carrier; The ship is named on January 16, 2007.

The Gerald R. Ford-class is the future aircraft carrier replacement class for Enterprise and Nimitz-class aircraft carriers. The Gerald R. Ford-class will be the premier forward asset for crisis response and early decisive striking power in a major combat operation. Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers and carrier strike groups will provide the core capabilities of forward presence, deterrence, sea control, power projection, maritime security and humanitarian assistance. The class brings improved warfighting capability, quality of life improvements for our Sailors and reduced total ownership costs.