The first of the U.S. Navy’s next generation of aircraft carriers has set sail. The USS Gerald R. Ford has recently returned to Naval Station Norfolk of Virginia following a week of builder’s trials. How did the advanced vessel fair upon hitting the seas and just what capabilities will it add to U.S. Naval operations?
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Vital Operations On Open Water
The USS Gerald R. Ford underwent a range of evaluations over a period of seven days.
The crew, comprised of representatives from Huntington Ingalls Industries Shipbuilding, and the U.S. Navy’s CVN Program Office and the Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair, along with other experts, performed a series of trials to learn how many of the ship’s functions performed on open water.
Dual Band Radar tracking of aircraft, electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) “no load” cycles, and various small boat operations were demonstrated. High power runs and steering, as well as ahead flank turns, were also conducted and evaluated.
A Serious Update To The Navy’s Fleet
The capabilities of the Ford include accommodation of directed-energy lasers, electromagnetic rail guns, and other future weapons. It also contains a power plant with triple the power capacity of Nimitz-class aircraft carriers.
These, and other assets are meant to provide a serious update to the Navy’s fleet. With the Pre-Commissioning Unit now on track to conduct acceptance trials and complete delivery to the Navy this spring, a full commission is expected this summer.
After delays and cost overruns, the USS Gerald R. Ford is nearly two years behind its previous completion estimate of September 2015 and $2.4 billion over its original quote of $10.5, but it’s still expected to be a welcome upgrade.
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