Huntington Ingalls Industries (NYSE:HII) announced today that its Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) division has reached 90 percent structural completion in the building of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).
Shipbuilders successfully added three units to the ship last week. Two of the units were sponsons, which are structures that project from the side of the aircraft carrier hull and provide the space needed for flight deck operations. One of the sponsons was 140 feet long and weighed 391 metric tons, making it one of the largest sponsons to be erected. In addition, shipbuilders installed 3 million feet of cable of the estimated total 10 million feet to be installed.
"The entire construction team has done a great job in reaching the 90 percent structural completion milestone," said Rolf Bartschi, NNS' vice president of CVN 78 carrier construction. "All of our shipbuilders take great pride in seeing the flight deck take shape and in the work they have accomplished to build the systems and spaces within the ship. The lifts we have accomplished are massive, which is in keeping with our larger-unit build strategy. Our electricians have installed 3 million feet of cable to date and install on average 10,000 feet of cable a day. Our shipbuilders continue to demonstrate their capabilities and commitment to a quality product."
Gerald R. Ford is being built using modular construction, a process where smaller sections of the ship are welded together to form large structural units, equipment is installed, and the large units are lifted into the dry dock. Of the nearly 500 total structural lifts needed to complete the ship, 446 have been accomplished. The lifts are accomplished using the shipyard's 1,050-metric ton gantry crane, one of the largest in the Western Hemisphere.
Gerald R. Ford represents the next-generation class of aircraft carriers. The first-in-class ship features a new nuclear power plant, a redesigned island, electromagnetic catapults, improved weapons movement, an enhanced flight deck capable of increased aircraft sortie rates, and growth margin for future technologies and reduced manning. Ford has been under construction since November 2009. The ship is scheduled to launch in 2013.