Serve with Courage

The U.S. Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, the future USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79), was christened on Saturday, December 7, 2019, during an 11 a.m. EST ceremony at Newport News, Virginia.

New Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) christened December 7

USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) is the second aircraft carrier of the Gerald R. Ford class, slated to replace USS Nimitz (CVN-68), when that ship is decommissioned.

Former NASA Administrator Major General Charles F. Bolden, USMC (Retired), delivered the ceremony’s keynote address. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, President Kennedy’s daughter, served as the ship’s sponsor and broke a bottle of American sparkling wine against a plate welded to the hull.

«USS John F. Kennedy will carry the legacy of its namesake and the power of our nation», said Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly. «The advanced technology and warfighting capabilities this aircraft carrier brings to our global challenges will strengthen our allies and partners, extend our reach against potential adversaries, and further the global mission of our integrated naval force».

USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) is the second aircraft carrier to honor President John F. Kennedy for a lifetime of service to the nation. The president wore the uniform of our nation as a Navy lieutenant during World War II and served as the 35th President of the United States, from January 1961 to November 1963.

USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79), along with its embarked air wing and other strike group assets, will provide the core capabilities of forward presence, deterrence, sea control, power projection, maritime security and humanitarian assistance.

Built by Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding division, the Gerald R. Ford class incorporates advances in technology, such as a new propulsion system, electric plant, Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG), machinery control, radars and integrated warfare systems.

«This is a very proud and particularly poignant moment for the CVN-79 shipbuilding team», said Rear Adm. James P. Downey, program executive officer for Aircraft Carriers. «We are grateful to the thousands of engineers and planners from Naval Sea Systems Command, to the HII-NNS shipbuilders, and to the sailors and crew of the John F. Kennedy, who are working tirelessly as a team to construct this formidable aircraft carrier».

At 1,092 feet/333 m in length and 100,000 tons, USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) incorporates more than 23 new technologies, comprising dramatic advances in propulsion, power generation, ordnance handling and aircraft launch systems. These innovations will support a 33% higher sortie generation rate at a significant cost savings, when compared to Nimitz-class carriers. The Gerald R. Ford class also offers a significant reduction – approximately $4 billion per ship – in life cycle operations and support costs compared to the earlier Nimitz class.

The new technology and warfighting capabilities that the USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) brings to the fleet will transform naval warfare, supporting a more capable and lethal forward-deployed U.S. naval presence. In an emerging era of great power competition, USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) will serve as the most agile and lethal combat platform in the world, with improved systems that enhance interoperability among other platforms in the carrier strike group, as well as with the naval forces of regional allies and partners.

The ship’s crest for the Ford-class aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) (U.S. Navy graphic/Released)


General Characteristics

Builder Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia
Propulsion 2 A1B* nuclear reactors, 4 shafts
Length 1,092 feet/333 m
Beam 134 feet/41 m
Flight Deck Width 256 feet/78 m
Flight Deck Square 217,796 feet2/20,234 m2
Displacement approximately 100,000 long tons full load
Speed 30+ knots/34.5+ mph/55.5+ km/h
Crew 4,539 (ship, air wing and staff)
Armament ESSM (Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile), RAM (Rolling Airframe Missile), Mk-15 Phalanx CIWS (Close-In Weapon System)
Aircraft 75+

* – Bechtel Plant Machinery, Inc. serves the U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program

USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) christening ceremony



Ship Laid down Launched Commissioned Homeport
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) 11-13-2009 11-09-2013 07-22-2017 Norfolk, Virginia
USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) 08-22-2015 10-29-2019
USS Enterprise (CVN-80)