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President Trump will travel to Virginia on Saturday to preside over the commissioning of the nation’s newest aircraft.

“This morning I will be going to the Commissioning Ceremony for the largest aircraft in the world, The Gerald R. Ford. Norfolk, Va.,” Trump tweeted at 7 a.m. ET Saturday.

The USS Ford is named after the country’s 38th president, who rose to the rank of lieutenant commander in the Navy during World War II.

The warship joins the Navy fleet behind schedule and at inflated price tag of $12.9 billion. The Navy blames the delays and cost overruns on the ship’s state-of-the-art systems.

The USS Ford, which is the first member of the next generation of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, will be welcomed to the fleet with the words: “Man our ship and bring her to life.”

Construction on the USS Ford started in 2009 and was to be completed by September 2015 at a cost of $10.5 billion.

Some of the overruns were blamed on the ship’s electromagnetic launch systems for jets and drones that will replace steam catapults.

Trump, who visited the carrier in March to promote his plans for a military buildup, told Time magazine this year that the Navy should revert to using steam catapults to launch fighter jets because some of the state-of-the-art systems and technology aboard the USS Ford “costs hundreds of millions of dollars more money and it’s no good.”

The warship also has a smaller “island,” or tower in which commanders work, that sits farther back on the ship to make it easier and quicker to refuel, re-arm and relaunch planes. The vessel also has a nuclear power plant designed to allow cruising speeds of more than 30 knots and operation for 20 years without refueling.

The vessel completed sea trials in April but still will go through a battery of tests and workups at sea before becoming operational and ready for deployment, work that is expected to cost nearly $780 million and take more than four years to complete, congressional auditors said in a report this month.

After military service, Ford was elected to the House of Representatives, serving Michigan until he was tapped by President Richard M. Nixon to become vice president.

Ford became president after Richard Nixon resigned during the Watergate scandal. Ford’s daughter, Susan Ford Bales, christened the vessel in 2013.

Docked at Naval Station Norfolk, the USS Ford eventually will house about 2,600 sailors, 600 fewer than the previous generation of aircraft carriers. The Navy says that will save more than $4 billion over the ship’s 50-year lifespan.

The air wing to support the Ford could add more personnel to the ship, which is designed to house more than 4,600 crew members.

The president’s return visit Saturday was falling during what the White House has coined as “Made in America” week, during which Trump and other administration officials highlighted a wide assortment of products — ranging from trucks and helicopters to baseball bats and glass bottles for pharmaceuticals — that are manufactured in the United States.

“This is American craftsmanship at its biggest, at its best, at its finest,” Trump said aboard the carrier earlier this year. “American workers are the greatest anywhere in the world. This warship, and all who serve on it, should be a source of shared pride for our nation.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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