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ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy announced Tuesday that the first of the next generation of aircraft carriers will be named after former President Gerald R. Ford, who died Dec. 26, 2006.

Speaking at Tuesday’s ceremony, Navy Secretary Donald Winter said the USS Gerald R. Ford will be part of a new class of carriers slated to replace the USS Enterprise and its class of carriers.

The CVN-21 carriers will be first on the scene to respond to crises and give the Navy “early, decisive striking power” during combat operations, Winter said. “CVN-21 ships include significant warfighting capability improvements, including a 25 percent increase in sortie generation rate, a nearly threefold increase in electrical generation capability, an improved fully integrated warfare system, and a host of new technologies in its system design,” he said.

When it joins the U.S. fleet between seven and eight years from now, the Ford will be as long as the Empire State Building is tall — nearly 1,500 feet — and will rise 20 stories out of the sea, said Vice President Dick Cheney during Tuesday’s ceremony.

Ford’s daughter, Susan Ford Bales, said the Ford family was filled with “tremendous pride” at the decision. “Nothing, absolutely nothing, would have made dad prouder,” she said.


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