Captain of the US Navy’s New Supercarrier Says He Doesn’t Miss Anything About Older Aircraft Carriers and Wouldn’t Want to Go Back

 In GDI, Defense, Air, Forces & Capabilities, FVEY, P5
  • The USS Gerald R. Ford is the first of a new class of Navy supercarriers, and Insider recently had the opportunity to talk to the captain about his experiences.
  • While the Ford has had its fair share of problems, Capt. J.J. Cummings says there is nothing he misses about the older Nimitz-class carriers. He says he would not want to go back.
  • “This ship is the leading edge of technology for naval and carrier aviation,” Cummings told Insider. “It’s the future of the Navy right here.” 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The USS Gerald R. Ford is a first-in-class aircraft carrier that has had its fair share of growing pains. Still, its commanding officer says that there’s nothing he misses about the Nimitz-class carriers and that he wouldn’t want to go back.

The Ford is behind schedule, over budget, and still sorting out certain developmental challenges. The $13 billion aircraft carrier has at times been a point of tension between lawmakers, Navy leaders, and the primary shipbuilder. But the Ford CO told Insider the carrier is getting back on track.

Capt. J.J. Cummings, who took command of the Ford in August 2018, said that “there are very few concerns” about the technology.

“Now,” he continued, “it is a matter of getting time underway and using those technologies. Now, it’s a matter of how we turn it into operations and execution with with our sailors working these systems.”

The carrier is going through post-delivery tests and trials at sea after wrapping up an extended post-shakedown availability, which lasted longer than expected due to unanticipated maintenance issues, namely the advanced weapons elevators.

Cummings, a distinguished naval aviator who has completed multiple deployments aboard Nimitz-class carriers, said he came to the Ford a little worried after “hearing the rumors” about some of the problems on the ship. “Within a month or two, I am like, ‘Holy crap, this ship is amazing,'” he said.

Asked if he would ever want to go back to a Nimitz-class carrier, the captain said, “No, this ship is the leading edge of technology for naval and carrier aviation. It’s the future of the Navy right here, and leaving the future of the Navy, I think, would not be good.”

“I want to be here and be the pioneers that we are,” he continued. “Every day, we’re finding out new things about our system.”

“That to me is the cool part,” he told Insider. “Nimitz-class is figured out. That is the old ’78 Chrysler that everyone knows, but we’re now into the Tesla area right now.”

Cummings said that there is nothing he misses about the Nimitz-class carriers. “No, I can’t think of anything that I wish we had on the ship that Nimitz had,” he said.

“There is nothing I miss,” the captain added. “Nimitz-class is kind of like your blankie. It is what you know. It is what our sailors know. As they get more and more comfortable on our ship, I think folks are realizing how amazing the technology is and how much simpler it is to use and easier to maintain.”


Capt. J.J. Cummings, left, poses with a crew member who received an award in 2018. Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jonathan Pankau/US Navy

A seasoned fighter pilot who has been working to qualify Navy pilots on the Ford told Insider the same, saying that there is nothing he misses about the Nimitz.

“I get lost a little bit because it’s a different design down below,” said Lt. Cmdr. Matt Deppen. “I feel like I am a student again. But, they have maps all over the place. Give me a little bit of time on here, and I’ll figure it out pretty easily.”

Cummings explained that the Ford’s design is what really makes the new class of carrier “stand out much differently and much more efficiently than the Nimitz-class.”

In particular, he praised the flight deck, noting improvements in refueling capabilities, the movement of weapons, and the amount of space available for stacking fighters on deck. The Ford is expected to embark with an entire air wing for the first time in May.

The CO told Insider that commanding the Ford “is the best job in the United States,” adding, “There’s no other job like it. And, I’ll never have a job like it again.”

“I’ll be disappointed when I leave here in less than a year, but I will leave with a giant smile on my face knowing full well I gave all to our crew. I’ll leave with no regrets.”

Business Insider: Defense source|articles

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