Everyone has seen it from the outside – come aboard the world’s largest warship

Everyone has seen it from the outside – come aboard the world’s largest warship
Everyone has seen it from the outside – come aboard the world’s largest warship

Imagine an airport stacked high. Invited press were allowed to inspect the USS Gerald R. Ford up close.

The crew of the USS Gerald R. Ford stood in a long line Thursday. They were waiting to be transported to Oslo. Photo: Stein J. Bjørge

It has been 65 years since Oslo was last visited by an American aircraft carrier. But for the crew on board the world’s largest warship, the USS Gerald R. Ford, this weekend’s visit to Oslo is also a rare experience.

On Thursday, the press was allowed to board the ship, which is anchored just off the Bunnefjorden. In the hangar, the crew, young Americans, many with caps, stood in a long queue.

They were waiting to be transported by boat to Søndre Akershuskai. For many, this is their first visit to Oslo and Norway.

– This is an opportunity for us to continue our cooperation with Norway, as well as an opportunity to work on interoperability with a NATO ally and partner, said Rear Admiral Erik J. Eslich.

He is in supreme command of the fleet force Carrier Strike Group 12, to which Gerald R. Ford belongs.

– The crew here are incredibly happy to be here. Many said that meeting Norwegians is a chance they only get once in a lifetime, Eslich said.

Gerald R. Ford’s visit to Norwegian waters is an opportunity to train together with the Norwegian Armed Forces, according to Rear Admiral Erik J. Eslich (centre). On the right is USS Gerald R. Ford’s Commander Rick Burgess. Photo: Stein J Bjørge

A gigantic airport

On the occasion of the event, the hangar was mainly emptied of fighters. These had been moved up on deck. Row after row of warplanes underlines what this ship is: “a giant floating airport”. That’s what Master of Orlog Jonathan Cox said.

This will affect the activity on the ship going forward:

– There will be many flights. We will ensure that the pilots get as many hours in the air as they need. We will practice with our allied partners and learn from each other, Cox told Aftenposten.

This is the war master’s sixth mission. But it is the aircraft carrier’s first. The ship left the base in Norfolk, Virginia on 2 May. The crossing to Oslo went smoothly, according to Cox.

– I think the most demanding part of my job is that I work and sleep directly below the flight deck. Often there is very loud noise. So it can be a bit difficult, adds Cox.

Sailing north

USS Gerald R. Ford will stay in Oslo through the Pentecost weekend. Exactly where it then sets its course is not yet publicly known. But commander Rick Burgess has confirmed to TV 2 that the ship will at least go to the Arctic Circle, which goes a little north of Mo i Rana.

It takes place at the same time as the maritime sniper exercise Formidable Shield takes place outside Andøya. A total of 13 countries are participating in the exercise, which focuses on air and missile defence.

The USS Gerald R. Ford is seen as a crucial way for the United States to demonstrate military power and striking power in the North Atlantic and vis-a-vis Russia. The Oslo visit was called a “harmful demonstration of power” by the Russian embassy.

China has conducted war games, simulated battles, in which they practiced sinking Gerald R. Ford.

Among other things, the aircraft carrier can carry over 70 combat aircraft. It is also equipped with advanced technology and weapons. It includes, among other things, an electromagnetic catapult. This helps to get the planes into the air on the short runway at their disposal. In the past, steam power has been used to drive the catapult.

– All our systems are operational, said Captain Lieutenant Michael Kuhaneck, who adds

– This is how we are able to carry out the main objective of this mission: to take off and land the flights according to the needs of the commanders in chief.

The article is in Norwegian

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