NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - A special ceremony was held Tuesday to mark a major milestone in the construction of the Navy's newest aircraft carrier.
Newport News Shipbuilding celebrated the lifting and placement of the multi-story island onto the flight deck of the carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) currently under construction at the shipyard.
The island is the operations command center for the aircraft carrier. The Kennedy is the second in the new Ford-class of carriers, where the island has been completely redesigned from previous Nimitz-class carriers. It is 140 feet further aft and three feet further outboard than the Nimitz-class carriers.
"It's not only a significant construction milestone, but provides the ship with that distinctive and unmistakable profile as an aircraft carrier which is now part of the Newport News skyline," Prospective Commanding Officer Captain Todd Marzano told News 3 anchor Todd Corillo on the flight deck.
CVN-79 is the second aircraft carrier in the Navy to be named for former President John F. Kennedy. The first, the conventionally powered CV-67, served from 1968 to 2007. It was the last conventionally-powered carrier built for the Navy.
Newport News Shipbuilding President Jennifer Boykin praised the work of thousands of shipyard employees who are building the Kennedy and said lessons learned from the USS Gerald R. Ford are helping the Kennedy be built more efficiently.
The island placing ceremony is falling on a significant date for Kennedy: Wednesday would have been the 35th President's 102nd birthday. His daughter, Caroline, is serving as sponsor for CVN-79.
During the ceremony, each speaker placed a special memento under the island to ensure "safe passage and good luck," in a tradition that dates back to ancient Rome.
"As the incoming commanding officer, the first CO of the ship I had the distinct privilege of being able to place my aviator wings under the island. Tradition promises that will provide good luck and safe passage for the ship," Captain Marzano said.
The items will later be permanently welded into the ship.