USS John F. Kennedy is the second aircraft carrier of the Gerald R. Ford class, built to replace United States Navy's existing Nimitz-class aircraft carriers.
With more than 20,000 attendees, President John F. Kennedy's daughter, the Honorable Caroline Bouvier Kennedy, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, officially christened Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) during a Huntington-Ingalls Industries' Newport News Shipbuilding (HII-NNS) division ceremony in Newport News, December 7, 2019.
At 1,092 feet in length and 100,000 tons, CVN 79 incorporates more than 23 new technologies, comprising dramatic advances in propulsion, power generation, ordnance handling and aircraft launch systems. These innovations will support a 33% higher sortie generation rate at significant cost savings when compared to Nimitz-class carriers. The Gerald R. Ford class also offers a significant reduction—approximately $4 billion per ship—in life cycle operations and support costs compared to the earlier Nimitz class.
The new technology and warfighting capabilities that the John F. Kennedy brings to the fleet will transform naval warfare, supporting a more capable and lethal forward-deployed U.S. naval presence. In an emerging era of great power competition, CVN 79 will serve as the most agile and lethal combat platform in the world, with improved systems that enhance interoperability among other platforms in the carrier strike group, as well as with the naval forces of regional allies and partners.
The USS John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier is powered by two new-design AB1 nuclear reactors. The reactors are manufactured by Bechtel, which beat out longtime naval reactor giants General Electric and Westinghouse for the reactor contract.
The Ford class aircraft carrier could embark two squadrons of ten to twelve F-35C Joint Strike Fighters, two squadrons of ten to twelve F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, five EA-18G Growler electronic attack jets, four E-2D Hawkeye airborne early-warning and control aircraft, and two C-2 Greyhound carrier onboard delivery (COD) planes. It will also carry eight MH-60S Seahawk helicopters. Down the road, it will embark the MQ-25 Stingray refueling and intelligence collection drone, the eventual planned sixth-generation fighter to replace the Super Hornet, and, if Sen. John McCain has his way, a new long-range strike drone. The V-22 Osprey tiltrotor is also set to replace the C-2 Greyhound in the COD role.
The USS John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier will have a crew of 4,660 personnel including 500 officers, 3,790 enlisted and other security and special persons, based on the latest published specifications