04/14/2017: According to an article written by Hugh Lessig and published in the Daily Press on April 9, 2017, CVN 78 is going to sea.
“CVN 78 construction is 99 percent complete and ready to begin initial sea trials,” said Capt. Thurraya Kent, referring to the ship by its alternate designation. “The Navy continues to monitor weather and sea conditions in the local area and will begin sea trials when conditions permit.”
The new technology packed aboard the ship has prompted delays and cost overruns.
But program costs have stabilized in recent years.
The next Ford-class carrier, the John F. Kennedy, is expected to cost $11.4 billion.
The Kennedy will be built with 18 percent fewer production hours than Ford, a savings on the order of 9 million man hours, Navy officials have said.
The aircraft carrier program has also received the endorsement of the commander-in-chief. President Donald Trump visited the Ford in February and said he wants to expand the U.S. carrier fleet from 11 to 12.
The initial round of at-sea tests are known as builder’s trials, where the ship’s basic systems are put through rigorous checks. Then Ford will go through a brief period of downtime, the length of which depends on what is found during builder’s trials, Moore said.
The next step is acceptance trials, with Navy inspectors on board. Following that is delivery.
“If things go as expected, we’ll get the ship delivered in the next month or so,” Moore said Monday. “We’ll get it commissioned this summer. That’s my hope.”
Commissioning is more of a ceremonial issue and depends on schedule availabilities. For example, the Navy would have to coordinate with ship’s sponsor Susan Ford Bales and other high-level officials before setting a date.
Nuclear-powered aircraft carriers are built exclusively by Newport News
Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries.
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78)
Video by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan Litzenberger:04/08/2017
For our interview with then Rear Admiral Moran and now the Vice CNO regarding the Ford, see the following:
And for our article comparing the Ford to the other two new aviation ships coming into service, LHA-6 and the Queen Elizabeth, see the following: