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Another big design change is that the flight deck has been fully rearranged and redesigned. That means a boost of 25 percent in the ability to launch and recover aircraft missions. That required installing three aircraft elevators rather than four, and positioning the island 140 feet further aft than in the past.

Finally, the Ford class is the world's first aircraft carrier class built from designs first made using a 3D collaborative visualization tool known as ROVR.

That software is helpful to the Navy and its shipbuilder partners because it allows every stakeholder in the carrier's construction - the Navy, the shipbuilder, welders, pipefitters, contractors, and others - to see the plans in 3D before construction. That means many design inefficiencies can be eliminated prior to construction.

The Gerald R. Ford is a big ship. It is 1, 080 feet long, 100 feet high, its flight deck is 250 feet wide, and it will be 134 feet wide at the water line. All told, it features 47, 000 tons of steel.

Now that it is being christened, it will next be put through a long series of tests. This is the first new aircraft carrier class since the USS Nimitz in 1968, and America's first new carrier of any kind since the USS George H.W. Bush was completed in 2003.

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