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USS Gerald R. Ford begins sea trials to test high-tech systems

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- The first of the U.S. Navy’s new class of aircraft carriers has headed out to sea.

The USS Gerald R. Ford embarked Saturday on the first of its sea trials to test various state-of-the-art systems.

The $12.9 billion carrier departed from Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News after more than a year’s delay and cost overruns.

Construction on the Ford started in 2009. It was supposed to finish by September 2015, with costs at $10.5 billion. But there were issues with the carrier’s advanced systems and technology, including aircraft landing equipment and power generation.

Trump pushes military buildup aboard Navy's pricey aircraft carrier

The ship is currently undergoing builder’s trials. It will return to port in Virginia before embarking again for “acceptance trials,” which are conducted by Navy inspectors.

In March, President Trump donned a U.S. Navy cap and flight suit when he visited the shipyard in Newport News to pitch his plan on increasing military spending dramatically.

But not everybody is sold on the expensive carrier. CBS News spoke with former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus who served under the Obama administration.

“The Ford is a poster child for how you don’t build a ship,” Mabus said. “They were designing the Ford while they were building it -- not a good way to build a ship,” he continued. “This is just a dumb way to build any type of ship, particularly something as big and complicated as a carrier.”

The Ford is expected to cost just under $13 billion, and that’s not counting the aircraft it will carry, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter which will cost the Navy close to $100 million each.

Under the current schedule, the Ford won’t be combat-ready until 2021, which means Mr. Trump will have to be elected to a second term before he can send it into action.

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