Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Thomas B. Modly made his first visit to the crew of the USS Gerald Ford this week, his first to the fleet since becoming Acting Secretary of the Navy, the branch announced.
"When I get out and meet with Sailors and Marines I'm convinced that people still believe that it's an honorable thing to do because the country is good -- and it's worth defending," Modly said at an all-hands call to address the crew on Tuesday. "So, I want to thank you for your service. It's something you will never forget and something you will never regret."
Modly also read the names of recently advanced petty officers and visited work centers across the ship to meet with sailors and be briefed on the Ford's recent post-shakedown availability and independent streaming exercise, according to a Navy announcement.
Gerald R. Ford is the first in class of nuclear-powered carriers and is intended to replace Nimitz-class carriers, but has been plagued by cost overruns and delays -- notably problems with its 11 electromagnetic elevators, seven of which were operational at the end of October. At that time Navy officials said the ship would be ready to deploy before 2024.
Forbes reported this week that the carrier will begin compatibility testing in early 2020.
The ship is currently in port at Norfolk, Va., after successfully completing independent steaming exercise seven.
During the independent streaming exercise, the Ford sailed more than 7,000 nautical miles, completing more than 1,000 cycles of the advanced weapons elevators and performing more than 200 advanced arresting gear simulations.