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Aircraft Carrier Ford Heads Out for Sea Trials

Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) sailors man the rails as the ship returns to Norfolk after conducting builder’s sea trials, April 14, 2017. (U.S. Navy photo/Mass Communication 3rd Class Matthew R. Fairchild)
Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) sailors man the rails as the ship returns to Norfolk after conducting builder’s sea trials, April 14, 2017. (U.S. Navy photo/Mass Communication 3rd Class Matthew R. Fairchild)

The aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford left Naval Station Norfolk Wednesday for its second set of sea trials, the Navy said.

The $12.9 billion first-in-class ship will spend the next several days at sea on acceptance trials. The crew will demonstrate to the Navy that the ship can conduct operations at sea and that it was built according to contract specifications, according to a news release from Naval Sea Systems Command.

The trials are overseen by personnel from the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey and the Navy's supervisor of shipbuilding, conversation and repair, NAVSEA said.

Also on board are employees from Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries. The shipyard is the sole builder of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers for the Navy.

The ship, beset by cost overruns and delays, passed its initial at-sea test -- known as builder's trials -- in mid-April. The ship's nuclear-powered propulsion system was pushed to its limits, and the crew conducted other tests that couldn't be done while she ship was pier side.

Acceptance trials offer a different sort of test for the Ford, as both systems and crew performance are tested under the eyes of Navy inspectors.

Once the ship clears acceptance trials, it can be delivered to the Navy. Assuming all goes as planned, a formal commissioning ceremony will be held later this year.

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