NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) - The daughter of former U.S. President Gerald R. Ford was in Hampton Roads Friday to help complete a major milestone in the construction of the nation's newest aircraft carrier.
Susan Ford-Bales paid a visit to Newport News Shipbuilding where the Gerald R. Ford, named for her father, is being built.
Ford-Bales has been closely involved with the construction of the ship. "I've welded on it. I've helped do the electrical on it. I have done all kinds of things, so I really feel like I've become a part of the ship."
Friday, she signed the paperwork to clear the way for the next milestone in the construction; authorization to flood the dock.
With that go-ahead, thousands of gallons of water rushed from the James River into Dry Dock 12 at the shipyard. This is the first time the first carrier in this new class will actually float on water.
"It sure is and it really allows those sea-connected systems to be able to start drawing water into em. It really is the beginning of bringing a ship to life," said Matt Mulherin, President of Newport News Shipbuilding.
Keeping the carrier program afloat has become a challenge for both shipbuilders and the Navy due to sequestration and the budget impasse. Congress has delayed the contract for the next ship in this class, the John F. Kennedy.
When asked what she thinks her father would say about what's going on in Washington Susan Ford-Bales responded, "He would not tolerate it. He would learn how to walk across the aisle and learn how to make peace and do what's best for the country. And he would be furious."
But on this particular day he would be as his daughter is, proud.
The flooding takes place in phases during which different tests are conducted. Once the dock is fully flooded and afloat testing is complete, the ship will then prepare for Ford's Christening on Nov. 9.
Camden County Sheriff Tony Perry said that during the last two weeks, incidents of breaking and entering and home or vehicle larceny have increased in two areas of the county.
A Facebook post helped Elizabeth City Police identify and locate the suspect of a hit-and-run incident involving a 3-year-old this week.
As Newport News Fire Chief Scott Liebold plans to retire at the end of this month, the city is looking for his replacement -- and they want your help.