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The US Navy's newest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, has passed yet another milestone on its way to active duty, as the first sailors have taken up residence on the $13-billion supercarrier.

Only a 240 "junior sailors" have moved aboard on a full-time basis the ship's public affairs officer, Lt. Cmdr. Sean Robertson, told Around 1,600 sailors have been assigned to the Ford, which remains docked at the sprawling Newport News, VA shipyards.

"The ship we are building will be their home and will serve the Navy and the nation's need in defense of our country for the next 50 years," the shipyard's VP for the Ford project, Rolf Bartschi, told

Capt. John F. Meier, the carrier's commanding officer, called the arrival of the first full-time residents "the tipping point for the Ford." By the time the ship is delivered to the Navy next spring, there will be over 2,600 crewmen on board.

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