Benton City native Serving as Navy Petty Officer

<p>Malinda Kitterman</p>

Malinda Kitterman

Petty Officer 1st Class Malinda Kitterman, an aviation maintenance administrationman from Benton City, Wash. and a 1997 River's Edge High School in Richland, Wash. graduate, is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).

Gerald R. Ford is the first ship in its class and the successor to the Navy's Nimitz-class aircraft carriers that have been in operation for the last half century.

Gerald R. Ford's 1000-sailor crew is slowly bringing the ship to life, a crew that will eventually grow to more than 4,500 when the ship is at sea.

When complete, the aircraft carrier, powered by two nuclear reactors, will measure more than three football fields long at 1,092 feet in length and will weigh more than 100,000 tons.

It will be capable of sailing at nearly 35 mph and will carry more than 75 Navy aircraft. Like the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers that came before it, USS Gerald R. Ford's mission is to protect and defend America on the world's oceans.

When the ship deploys it will bring four-and-a-half acres of survivable, sovereign U.S. territory, increasing the Navy's strike capability and defending the country's interests in any region of the world.

The ship is scheduled to commission in spring 2016.