NAVAL STATION NORFOLK, VA. More than 4,000 sailors are back home with their families after a nearly two-month deployment aboard the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier.
It was the first deployment of the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), which docked at Naval Station Norfolk on Saturday morning.
With more than twenty new technologies, including the Electromagnetic Launching System (EMALS), USS Ford is the first in its class of aircraft carriers.
“It’s a great feeling. I’m finally home and ready to see my wife and my baby,” Petty Officer Third Class Julio Agosto told News 3 before running into his wife and six-month-old’s arms.
Abroad, the sailors on board the ship stopped at Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Portsmouth, United Kingdom
Given the new technology, it took years for the USS Ford—the flagship of the Ford Carrier Strike Group—to catch up. While away, the ship trained and tested its ability to integrate with warships of other NATO countries.
Ford’s commanding officer says operating so far from home is critical to ensuring the ship’s combat readiness.
“Just the logistics piece of using all the systems without having a very close connection to where the systems are set up is a big deal for us,” Capt. Paul Lanzilotta told News 3. “Then we welcome our allies to connect with us, connecting through video teleconferencing systems, using tactics that all allies have developed over the years to be interchangeable is really exciting for the team.
Lanzilotta says the USS Ford will undergo some maintenance and modernization over the holidays before heading back to sea next year with the goal of leaving for another deployment sometime before the end of 2023.