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NEWS | Dec. 2, 2023

The World’s Largest Aircraft Carrier Arrives in Souda Bay

By U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa Public Affairs

The U.S. Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), and embarked staff from Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12 arrived in Souda Bay, Crete for a scheduled port visit, Dec 2, 2023.

This port visit is the capital ship’s sixth stop while deployed to the U.S. Naval Forces Europe (NAVEUR) area of operations. The port call will offer Gerald R. Ford Sailors the opportunity to experience the rich history and culture of Greece and enhance the strong partnership between the U.S. and Greece.

“The crew has been laser-focused on the mission, and I am really proud of our Sailors’ work and efforts these past couple of months as our nation’s capital ship has remained on scene and prepared to do our duty,” said Capt. Rick Burgess, Commanding Officer of Gerald R. Ford. “The team has earned some time off and looks forward to taking in Greek culture and exploring Souda Bay, Chania, and the surrounding area. Earlier this summer, Gerald R. Ford visited Piraeus and Athens, and the port visit remains one of the highlights of our deployment because of the hospitality of our cherished Ally.”

The U.S. Navy routinely operates with Greece, sending its largest aircraft carrier in the fleet to Souda Bay just four months after it visited Piraeus. Since Piraeus, the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group (GRFCSG) conducted three steaming exercises with the Hellenic Navy and hosted the commanding officers of HS Elli (F-450) and HS Psara (F-454) aboard the flagship, Gerald R. Ford. On Nov. 28, Psara joined the strike group to conduct joint and combined training in the Mediterranean Sea.

Gerald R. Ford’s most recent port visit in theater was in Trieste, Italy, Sept. 17-21. The ship deployed from Norfolk, Virginia on May 2, and has been conducting training, exercises, and operations to support maritime stability and security in defense of U.S., Allied, and partner interests.

Gerald R. Ford is the U.S. Navy’s newest and most advanced aircraft carrier. As the first-in-class ship of Ford-class aircraft carriers, CVN 78 represents a generational leap in the U.S. Navy’s capacity to project power on a global scale. Ford-class aircraft carriers introduce 23 new technologies, including Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, Advanced Arresting Gear and Advanced Weapons Elevators. The new systems incorporated onto Ford-class ships are designed to deliver greater lethality, survivability and joint interoperability with a 20% smaller crew than a Nimitz-class carrier, paving the way forward for naval aviation.

The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group (GRFCSG) is conducting a scheduled deployment in U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations, demonstrating the commitment and power projection capability of the Navy’s globally deployed force. The GRFCSG provides an inherently flexible naval force capable of deploying across combatant commands to meet emerging missions, deter potential adversaries, reassure allies and partners, enhance security and guarantee the free flow of global commerce. In total, the GRFCSG is deployed with more than 6,000 Sailors across all platforms ready to respond globally to combatant commander tasking.

The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group consists of Carrier Strike Group 12, Carrier Air Wing 8, Destroyer Squadron 2, USS Normandy (CG 60), USS Ramage (DDG 61), USS McFaul (DDG 74), and USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116).

Headquartered in Naples, Italy, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet operates U.S. naval forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations. Our persistent presence in Europe is in accordance with our international commitments and agreements and is necessary to reassure our Allies and Partners of our commitment to collective defense.

For more information about the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), visit and follow along on Facebook: @USSGeraldRFord, Instagram: @cvn78_grford, Twitter: @Warship_78, DVIDS and LinkedIn at USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).