Gerald R. Ford returns to port following sea trials

The USS Gerald R. Ford pulls into port at Naval Station Norfolk Friday, April 14, 2017, following the first of its sea trials. Credit: WAVY/Kara Dixon

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The future USS Gerald R. Ford is back in Hampton Roads following the first of its sea trials.

Construction on the Navy’s newest carrier was initially set to be completed  in September 2015, but it was delayed. It ended up costing $12.9 billion, which is a little over $2 billion more than it was supposed to cost.

Gallery: Future USS Ford returns from sea trials

The Ford left Newport News earlier this month to test its various state-of-the-art systems. During its sea trials, the Ford helped rescue a sailor who needed urgent medical attention.

The new carrier pulled into port at Naval Station Norfolk Friday afternoon.

“In my 36 years with Newport News Shipbuilding, I’ve ridden many sea trials,” said Newport News Shipbuilding President Matt Mulherin. “While they have all been great experiences, this one was especially rewarding. I’ve been with this ship since 2001, when she was still just a design concept. To see her come to life and perform as she was designed and built to do is awe inspiring and a testament to her shipbuilders and Navy crew.”

Shipbuilders from Newport News were on board with sailors to perform the tests.

Newport News shipbuilders partnered with Gerald R. Ford sailors and personnel from Naval Sea Systems

“Everybody has to work together to really exercise the ship and take it through its final paces,” said Rolf Bartschi, Newport News Shipbuilding vice president, Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) carrier construction. “We work to test the systems and actually operate the ship out here at sea. It’s fantastic to be out and really see this ship come to life.”

The Ford features a new nuclear power plant, a redesigned island, electromagnetic catapults, improved weapons movement, an enhanced flight deck capable of increased aircraft sortie rates, and growth margin for future technologies.

Huntington Ingalls Industries say the sea trials tested the ship’s systems, components and compartments at sea for the first time.

The Ford is the first of three new aircraft carriers. The John F. Kennedy is under construction at the Newport News Shipyard and the Enterprise will be built in the future.