Future USS Gerald R. Ford to be commissioned Saturday in Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — President Donald Trump will be in town Saturday to preside over the commissioning of the future USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).

The Navy’s newest aircraft carrier will officially become a United States warship during a ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk, which is slated to start at 10 a.m.

Last minute preparations were underway at the base Friday. A crowd of as many as 10,000 people are expected to attend, WAVY’s Deanna LeBlanc reports.

The Ford was delivered to the Navy on June 1, after the ship completed its second set of sea trials, known as acceptance trials.

The $12.9 billion ship features state-of-the-art technologies like electromagnetic catapults and arresting gear, a new island structure, an expanded flight deck that will allow aircraft to be launched faster than ever before, 250 percent more electrical power, two next generation nuclear reactors and 500 fewer crew members.

Gallery: Future USS Ford returns from sea trials

President Trump is expected to arrive at Naval Station Norfolk around 10 a.m. Saturday.

Donald Trump,
President Donald Trump speaks while aboard the nuclear aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford, Thursday, March 2, 2017, at Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport, Va. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

This will be Trump’s latest trip to Hampton Roads since he took the oath of office in January — and the second related to the Ford.

Trump delivered a speech on the Navy’s future inside the Ford back in March. During the speech, the president pledged “one of the largest” defense spending increases in history.

Several dignitaries will also be in attendance, including Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.

Susan Ford Bales in Norfolk for commissioning of ship named for her father

Construction of the Ford began in 2008 and was initially slated for completion in September of 2015, but ran into delays. The ship ended up costing a little over $2 billion more than it was supposed to cost.

The Navy says the carrier will be operational by 2020.

You can watch live team coverage of the commissioning ceremony Saturday on WAVY-TV 10, FOX 43 TV and on WAVY.com. For more information on events surrounding the Ford’s commissioning, go online.