Dec. 5 (UPI) — The USS John F. Kennedy will be christened Saturday morning in Newport News, Virginia.
The vessel, the second of the new Ford-class carriers, was launched three months early, with officials saying the lessons of the first-in-class USS Gerald R. Ford have allowed it get ahead of its construction and testing schedule.
The new vessel includes an upgraded propulsion system, the electromagnetic aircraft launch system, advanced arresting gear, advanced radar and integrated warfare systems, among other new systems.
“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.”
Former NASA administrator Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden and Caroline Kennedy are expected to attend the christening, with Bolden delivering the keynote address and Kennedy serving as sponsor of the ship, which is named after her late father, according to announcements from the Navy and shipmaker Huntington Ingalls.
It is the second aircraft carrier named in honor of the 35th president, who served as Navy lieutenant during World War II.
The Kennedy is expected to replace the USS Nimitz when it is decommissioned, according to the Navy.
Earlier this week, Huntington Ingalls received an $ 11.5 million contract modification for repairs on the first-in-class Ford, which has been troubled by cost overruns and delays and drew ire from former Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer, who said Huntington Ingalls had “no idea” what it was doing with the Ford.
The Kennedy’s commanding officer, Capt. Todd Marzano, told Business Insider last month that the Navy and Huntington Ingalls have applied lessons from the Ford to construction of the Kennedy, adapting the latter’s build strategy to control costs and stay on schedule, enabling the carrier to launch three months ahead of schedule.