uss ford in uk

The Honorable Jane Hartley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Capt. Paul Lanzilotta, USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) commanding officer, discuss Gerald R. Ford’s legacy in the CO’s in-port cabin, Nov. 17, 2022. The tour offered distinguished visitors an opportunity to meet with senior leadership and provided a basic familiarization of FORD-class carriers’ design, advanced technologies, and upgrades from NIMITZ-class carriers. The ship is anchored off the coast of Portsmouth, England, marking the second foreign port call for the nation’s newest Ford-class aircraft carrier. The Gerald R. Ford Strike Group is deployed in the Atlantic Ocean, conducting training and operations alongside NATO Allies and partners to enhance integration for future operations and demonstrate the U.S. Navy’s commitment to a peaceful, stable and conflict-free Atlantic region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tyler Slavicek) 

The first-in-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) departed Portsmouth, United Kingdom, Nov. 18, concluding its second international port visit and first in Europe.

“We were honored to visit the United Kingdom, a nation with rich cultural heritage and strong ties to the U.S. Navy, during Ford’s first deployment,” said Capt. Paul Lanzilotta, Ford’s commanding officer. “Our Sailors were incredibly excited to explore Portsmouth and its naval history. The community extended us a genuinely warm welcome, and we truly enjoyed taking a few days to recharge and explore local sights as well as London and other national treasures before returning to sea.”

During the four-day port visit, Ford Sailors participated in community relations (COMREL) projects organized by the ship’s Command Religious Ministries Department. Sailors dedicated their free time to We Shine Portsmouth by setting up a four-day art and light festival in various locations around the city. Portsmouth Creates sponsored the program, which aims to enhance the availability of the arts to the community.

“Giving back to the community who hosts us is a priority for us,” said Cmdr. Genevieve Clark, Ford’s command chaplain. “We are appreciative of Portsmouth for hosting our Sailors and supporting the ship’s visit to the city. Community relations projects provide our Sailors the opportunity to be involved on a personal level with a community they are visiting through individual connections that strengthen our partnerships.”

In conjunction with COMRELs, Sailors had the opportunity to experience local sites, including Stonehenge, Bath, Hampton Court, Windsor, and London. The tours were organized by Ford’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation office and were arranged to provide Sailors opportunities to sightsee and explore many of the area’s cultural and historic attractions.

Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Colin Priestino, from Blair, Nebraska, attached to combat systems department, joined several Sailors who explored Bath and Stonehenge.

“To visit Stonehenge, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, was awesome, and to have experienced the historical Roman Baths was amazing,” said Priestino. “Being from a small town in Nebraska and given this chance to see other countries with the Navy and experience London, a city I have only seen on television and social media, was overwhelming in the best possible way.”

Ford also hosted a number of distinguished visitors while anchored off the coast of Portsmouth.

Gen. Sir Tim Radford, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, visited Ford as part of a two-day commanders’ conference. More than 45 attendees and guests enjoyed lunch and received a carrier strike group capabilities brief and tour aboard Ford.

The Honorable Jane Hartley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Rear Adm. Robert Pedre, Commander, U.K. Strike Force, Royal Navy, embarked the ship to meet with strike group leadership, interact with service members, and learn about the strike group’s capabilities and recent operations.

“It’s been an honor to be here,” Hartley said during a ship visit, “and the fact that the USS Gerald R. Ford has stopped in Portsmouth on its maiden voyage is a powerful example of the strong relationship and cooperation we have with our trusted ally- the United Kingdom.”

During its first deployment in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe area of operations, the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group (GRFCSG) has operated with air, maritime, and ground assets from several NATO Allies and partner nations. Together, they participated in training events, including long-range maritime strike, air defense, anti-subsurface warfare, and distributed maritime operations.

USS Gerald R. Ford is a first-in-class aircraft carrier, and the first new aircraft carrier designed in more than 40 years. The flagship departed Norfolk, Va. Oct. 4 on its first operational deployment, setting the stage for the U.S. Navy’s newest class of carriers.

For more information about the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), visit https://www.airlant.usff.navy.mil/cvn78/, and follow along on Facebook @USSGeraldRFord, Instagram @cvn78_grford, Twitter @Warship_78, LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/company/uss-gerald-r-ford-cvn-78/ and DVIDS www.dvids.net/CVN78.

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