Navy’s Most Expensive Warship Breaks Down, Delivery Delayed Again
NEWPORT NEWS, VIRGINIA – March 28, 2019
Problems with the USS Gerald R. Ford’s nuclear propulsion systems were detected during sea trials, Stars and Stripes reports.
The USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) is currently undergoing its post-shakedown availability (PSA) 12-month period at Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Virginia. It is the most expensive warship in U.S. Navy history, with total procurement costs amounting to approximately $13 billion. The Ford’s cost is more than double that of the last Nimitz carriers built.
In July 2018, PSA began to uncover any glitches during operations before the ship joins the fleet and was originally set to be completed in July 2019. PSA is now expected to be completed in October at the earliest due to additional timed needed to repair the carrier’s nuclear propulsion system and advanced weapons elevators.
The lead ship of its class, the USS Gerald R. Ford won’t join the fleet until October so crews can finish repairs and other work, Navy officials say https://t.co/8OZXjacbA6— Stars and Stripes (@starsandstripes) March 27, 2019
“We had that scheduled as a 12-month availability, where we were going to both complete some nuclear propulsion work on the plant, do some more of the ShipAlts [ship alterations] and then finish up the elevators,” James F. Geurts, the U.S. Navy’s Assistant Secretary for Research Development and Acquisition, told the House Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.
“Right now, my current estimate is that’s going to be an October delivery, vice July, so about a three-month delay.”
The USS Gerald R. Ford’s delivery has continually run over budget and schedule since construction began a decade ago.
According to USNI News, the problems with the propulsion system are related to the carrier’s main turbine generators that are driven by the steam that the Ford’s nuclear reactors produce.
Another trouble that goes back years is the weapons elevator system, which has suffered reliability issues due largely to software problems. 11 weapons elevators are needed to swiftly load ordnance on planes and launch sorties —the Navy commissioned the ship in July 2017 without any working elevators.
To date, only two of the elevators meet Navy standards. The second elevator was delivered earlier this March. Navy leaders say all 11 elevators will be installed by October.
The Ford’s electromagnetic catapult system for launching aircraft still has bugs to work out.
10 critical failures occurred during 747 at-sea launches, along with 10 landing failures during 763 attempts, according to Pentagon testing data reported by Bloomberg.