Aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy to be christened Saturday



NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — They’re getting ready to break out the bubbly at Newport News Shipbuilding this weekend.

The nation’s newest aircraft carrier, the USS John F. Kennedy will be christened Saturday and the ship is all decked out for the occasion.

“This is, I think, one of the most exciting days I’ve had professionally,” Newport News Shipbuilding President Jennifer Boykin told our sister station,WAVY, as she beamed with pride.

The ceremony is primarily focused on the former president and his daughter — also the ship’s sponsor — Caroline Kennedy, Capt. Todd Marzano, the ship’s commanding officer, said.

“It’s exciting enough to christen an aircraft carrier, but to be honored with ambassador [Caroline] Kennedy and her family here is just… it’s beyond anything I can describe,” Boykin said.

“It’s an honor to serve aboard a ship named after President Kennedy. His remarkable vision for our nation, many contributions and accomplishments helped to inspire the design of our new ship seal as well as our motto which is ‘serve with courage.’”

It’s also a big day for the 5,000 shipbuilders like Mike Butler.

“It’s been four years since we laid the keel … so it’s quite a marathon to get to this point,” Butler said.

The Kennedy is the second in the Ford-class series of aircraft carriers.

Based on lessons learned from the first Ford-class carrier, Vice President of New Aircraft Carrier Construction Lucas Hicks said the Kennedy is now 16 percent cheaper.

“This ship has evolved electrically, digitally — It’s ready for the workforce of tomorrow,” Hicks said.

Shipbuilders say the Kennedy is the most efficient aircraft carrier ever designed. It will allow the U.S. Navy to operate with less manpower, therefore, saving more than $4 billion over the ship’s 50-year life.

It’s something they hope the ship’s namesake– an innovative president — would be proud of.

The christening is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. Saturday at Newport News Shipbuilding.

It ceremony is closed to the public but you can watch a live stream on the carrier’s website.

About the ship:

  • Technology advances including a new propulsion system, electric plant, Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG), machinery control, radars and integrated warfare systems
  • 1,092 feet in length and 100,000 tons
  • Significant reduction—approximately $4 billion per ship—in life cycle operations and support costs compared to the earlier Nimitz class.
  • A 33-percent higher sortie generation rate at a significant cost savings, when compared to Nimitz-class carriers

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