Suffolk students to sing for crowd of nearly 20,000 at USS John F. Kennedy christening

Future USS John_F._Kennedy

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — More than 20 students from Suffolk will take part in the christening ceremony for the U.S. Navy’s new aircraft carrier, the USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79).

The christening of the new Gerald R. Ford-Class carrier is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Newport News Shipbuilding, where the ship was built.

The students make up the chorus at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Suffolk and will perform three songs during the event.

They will be directed by Jamilla Ford and perform for a crowd of nearly 20,000 people, the school division said in a news release.

The event’s final song will be “America the Beautiful.”

“Suffolk Public Schools is incredibly proud that JFKMS students were invited to be part of such an important event for the military community and the Hampton Roads region,” Suffolk Public Schools wrote in the release.

The ship’s sponsor, the former president’s daughter Caroline Kennedy, will break a bottle of American sparkling wine on the hull of the ship. Former NASA Administrator Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden, a retired Marine Corps member, will deliver the ceremony’s keynote address.

The aircraft carrier is the second Navy ship named for the late president. The first John F. Kennedy ship served from 1968 to 2007.

The new ship has been under construction since August 2015 and will replace the USS Nimitz, the Navy wrote in a news release.

On Oct. 29, the ship’s dry dock at Newport News Shipbuilding-Huntington Hills Industries in Newport News was flooded to officially launch the aircraft carrier.

The christening is a ticketed event, but will be live-streamed on the carrier’s website.

About the ship:

  • Technology advances including a new propulsion system, electric plant, Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG), machinery control, radars and integrated warfare systems
  • 1,092 feet in length and 100,000 tons
  • Significant reduction—approximately $4 billion per ship—in life cycle operations and support costs compared to the earlier Nimitz class.
  • A 33-percent higher sortie generation rate at a significant cost savings, when compared to Nimitz-class carriers

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