The first-in-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) and embarked crew arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for the ship’s first international port visit, Oct. 28, 2022.
Ford deployed from Norfolk, Virginia, Oct. 4, on its first deployment and has been conducting multinational maritime exercises and operations in the Atlantic Ocean with NATO Allies Canada, Spain, Denmark, Netherlands, and Germany.
“We have been operating alongside our Allies and partners on the high seas, training our interoperability and interchangeability,” said Capt. Paul Lanzilotta, commanding officer of the USS Gerald R. Ford. “Visiting Halifax gives us a chance to build even stronger relationships with our teammates, strengthening our partnership, and allows our Sailors to explore the rich culture and welcoming people of Canada.”
This port visit marks the first aircraft carrier to visit Halifax in five years, and signifies a deeper connection between Ford and Halifax, as Norfolk’s sister city. The visit allowed many of Ford’s junior Sailors not only their first international port experience, but also their first exposure to Canadian culture.
“I’m really excited that this city is my first international visit since I have been serving in the Navy,” said Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Ky Keys, from Tahlequah, Oklahoma, assigned to Ford’s combat systems department. “I’m really looking forward to visiting the Citadel for its history and, if possible, also meeting my foreign Naval counterparts.”
This visit will build relations between the U.S. and Canada through a multitude of scheduled events and tours within the Halifax community. While also in port, a reception is scheduled to host Halifax community leaders, Royal Canadian Navy Sailors and foreign dignitaries aboard Ford, strengthening the relationships between U.S. Allies and partners.
Ford’s Command Religious Ministries Department is presenting various opportunities for Sailors to volunteer at local Halifax organizations such as a thrift store, food bank and Habitat for Humanity, while members of Ford’s Second Class Petty Officer Association are scheduled to volunteer at a local animal shelter.
“Community relations projects offer Sailors an opportunity to serve as good ambassadors in the communities in which they work and live, while advancing the pride, personal values, self-worth and morale of all involved,” said Cmdr. Genevieve Clark, Ford’s command chaplain. “Overseas community relations projects perform the essential task of promoting international friendship and trust, and in turn, play a vital role in enabling the Navy to carry out its mission of partner building and strengthening ties with maritime Allies.”
After this port visit, the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group will continue its deployment in the Atlantic Ocean, conducting training and operations alongside NATO Allies and partners to enhance integration for future operations and demonstrate the U.S. Navy’s commitment to a peaceful, stable and conflict-free Atlantic region.