New-build Aircraft Carrier Island Top Off
Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) plant the 555 mt island aboard 90% complete US carrier 'Gerald R. Ford'.
HII celebrated significant progress as the 555-metric ton island was lowered onto the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) at the company's Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) division. The island will serve as the command center for flight deck operations aboard the first of the next-generation class of aircraft carriers.
Susan Ford Bales, daughter of the late President Gerald R. Ford and Betty Ford, serves as the ship's sponsor and participated in the event. "Shipbuilders--thank you for your extraordinary work," she said. "You are a national treasure. Thank you very much."
Gerald R. Ford is being built using modular construction. The 60-foot long, 30-foot wide island represents the 452nd lift of the nearly 500 total structural lifts needed to complete the ship.
"When the island is landed, Gerald R. Ford will take on that distinctive and unmistakable profile of an aircraft carrier," said CVN 78's prospective commanding officer Capt. John Meier. "Its profile will be easily recognizable; it belies the advancement of essentially every system aboard the ship. Simply put, this is not your father's aircraft carrier."
The island is redesigned on Ford to incorporate the latest technology in flat-panel array radar systems and dual-band radar that provides improved functionality. It is shorter in length but stands 20 feet taller than islands on previous aircraft carriers. Its placement is 140 feet further aft and 3 feet further outboard than previous carriers to improve flight deck access for aircraft operations.
The first-in-class ship also features a new nuclear power plant, electromagnetic catapults, improved weapons movement, an enhanced flight deck capable of increased aircraft sortie rates, and growth margin for future technologies and reduced manning.