Stallings Native Now Serving Aboard America’s Newest Aircraft Carrier


A Stallings, NC, native and UNCC graduate is now serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the service’s newest aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford.

Lt. Tyler “Shipwreck” Dunn is an operations administration officer aboard the carrier homeported in Norfolk, Virginia.

As a Navy operations administration officer, Dunn is responsible for supporting the administration side of the operations department and is a bridge watchstander by being the commanding officer’s direct representative on the bridge in charge of safe navigation and operations of the ship.

Dunn credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Stallings.

“I learned to be resourceful,” said Dunn. “Being able to work through mission accomplishment with a limited set of tools at your disposal.”

Commissioned in 2017, Ford, or ‘Warship 78’ as she is known by the crew, is 1,106 feet long; longer than three football fields. The ship, a true floating city, weighs more than 100,000 tons and has a flight deck that is 256 feet wide.

Powerful catapults slingshot the aircraft off the bow of the ship. The planes land aboard the carrier by snagging a steel cable with an arresting hook that protrudes from the rear of the aircraft.

Ford is the first of a class of aircraft carriers that offer significant performance improvements over the previous Nimitz-class aircraft carriers. The ship is equipped with the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) to launch aircraft, rather than steam catapults currently used aboard other aircraft carriers, eliminating the requirement to generate and store steam for catapults, which frees up space. EMALS and other new systems and operating concepts will allow the Ford to accomplish 25 percent more aircraft launches per day than its predecessor while requiring 25 percent fewer crewmembers, resulting in an estimated savings of $4 billion in operating costs over a 50-year life span.