The Honorable Thomas Modly, acting Secretary of the Navy, walks aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78). Modly visited Ford to meet with Sailors and be briefed on Ford's progress following its post-shakedown availability and recent independent steaming exercise, as part of his first official visit to the fleet.


As part of his “Make FORD Ready” initiative, Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly convened a summit Jan. 9, to harness the collective expertise of senior Navy and shipbuilding industry leaders to transition CVN 78 into Fleet operations as quickly and effectively as possible.

“While this is an 'all hands on deck' priority that can only be accomplished through the dedicated efforts of the Ford team, it will also require broad, department-wide encouragement, enthusiasm, and support for our shipmates and industry partners who will be heads down on the tasks at hand,” said Modly. “We all have a stake in the success of this effort--for the future of our Navy, our national security, and security of the world.”

Modly first called for the summit last month in one of his weekly memos to the integrated Navy and Marine Corps team. The “make Ford ready” memoranda clarified his focus and direction on achieving critical Navy-wide objectives for the Ford team. In his memo, Modly stressed that, under his watch, the Navy is going to make ready CVN 78, employing all hands on deck and working as “one team, relentlessly focused” on achieving core tasks under rigid timelines.

“I’m extremely bullish on FORD -- and our Navy should be too,” said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday. “The FORD-class carrier is the future. It is a phenomenal ship designed to deliver increased capability for the carrier air wing of tomorrow. While good progress has been made over the past several months, together we must keep FORD headed in the right direction – and get her where she needs to be – operating forward at sea to reassure allies, deter adversaries, and protect our national interests around the world.”

During the summit Rear Adm. Roy J. Kelley, Commander, Naval Air Forces Atlantic (CNAL) and Rear Adm. James P. Downey, Program Executive Officer Aircraft Carriers, led the briefing to Modly and Gilday.

Speaking before more than 50 stakeholders, Downey and Kelley briefed progress to date and the path forward to achieve full ship functionality, training and certifying the crew, ensuring ship material readiness, and exercising the full spectrum of Air Wing operations to successfully transition CVN 78 into Fleet operations.

Collaboration at the “Make FORD Ready” Summit offered a unique opportunity to ensure alignment among more than a dozen military and shipbuilding stakeholders—both in terms of meeting Department of Defense (DoD) strategic objectives and program system integration requirements, from an operational, “on the deck plates” perspective.

Since completing its Post-Shakedown Availability/Selected Restricted Availability (PSA/SRA) in late October 2019, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) has performed exceptionally well, during two successful underway test and training evolutions. At-sea periods for this first-in-class aircraft carrier are part of a current 18-month phase of operations known as Post-Delivery Test and Trials (PDT&T), scheduled to continue through mid-2021. During this PDT&T, the crew will certify fuel systems, conduct aircraft compatibility testing, exercises the flight deck, and conduct tests to on-board combat systems.

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