Watch: John F. Kennedy christened in Newport News

Posted at 5:32 AM, Dec 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-09 10:29:47-05

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – The Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, the John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), was christened in Newport News Saturday, December 7.

According to a release by the Navy, the Kennedy is the second aircraft carrier of the Gerald R. Ford class. It will replace the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) when that ship is decommissioned.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (October 29, 2019) Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) reaches another milestone in its construction as their dry dock area is flooded three months ahead of its slated production schedule leading up to the christening of the second Ford-class aircraft carrier, scheduled for Dec. 7. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adam Ferrero)

It has been under construction in Newport News since 2015.

During an 11 a.m. ceremony, former NASA Administrator Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden, USMC (Ret.), delivered a keynote address before the ship’s sponsor, Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, broke a bottle of sparkling wine against a plate welded to the hull.

The Kennedy is the second aircraft carrier honoring 35th President of the United States John F. Kennedy, who also served the Navy as a lieutenant during World War II.

“His remarkable vision for our nation — many contributions, many accomplishments — helped to inspire the design of our new ship seal as well as our motto, which is ‘Serve with Courage,'” said Capt. Todd Marzano, the Commanding Officer.

The Kennedy, along with its embarked air wing and other strike group assets, will provide the core capabilities of forward presence, deterrence, sea control, power projection, maritime security and humanitarian assistance, the Navy said. It incorporates more than 23 new technologies, with design and production lessons learned from the first-in-class USS Gerald R. Ford.

“The event signifies the transition of the ship from being referred to as just a hull number to taking on the identity of the sponsor and the namesake,” said Marzano.

While there have been many questions and much frustration with the Ford’s delays and issues, Newport News Shipbuilding is confident the Kennedy will be different.

“The Gerald R. Ford was the first in the class — a lot of new technology, a lot of lessons learned,” said Jennifer Boykin, the company’s president. “We’ve incorporated thousands and thousands of those lessons from Ford onto Kennedy.”

The company hopes to deliver the ship to the Navy in 2022.