Launch and delivery date of carrier Ford pushed back

ford upper bowMAY 7, 2013 — Although the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is 96 percent structurally complete, launch at Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding has been pushed back from July to November 2013. This will, in turn, delay delivery.

The shipbuilder said that the launch date had been revised "working closely with the Navy."

Ford upper bow was lifted into place last month

"Although actions to resolve first-of-class issues have retired significant schedule risks," said a statement, "the revised launch date allows increased outfitting and ship construction that are most economically done prior to ship launch.

"As the first new design carrier beginning construction in more than 40 years, CVN 78 is designed to provide increased capability and reduced total ownership cost by about $4 billion compared to Nimitz-class carriers. For this first-of-class ship, construction commenced in parallel with design completion based on earlier decisions at [the] Department of Defense. Ongoing design during the construction process caused delay and inefficiencies in procurement, manufacturing, and assembly.

"We have demonstrated that delaying launch (and therefore delivery) to allow for increased outfitting and construction prior to launch is the most economical path forward to deliver the tremendous capability and affordability improvements resident in Ford. "

A NAVSEA statement said delivery is now scheduled for second quarter FY 2016.

"Although shipbuilder actions to resolve first-of-class issues have retired significant schedule risks to launch and stabilized schedule performance, they have not been able to overcome the 17 weeks of schedule pressure identified two years ago," said NAVSEA.

"The Navy and the shipbuilder concluded last month that a delay in the launch would allow the shipbuilder to complete the remaining critical path work and allow for increased outfitting to most economically complete the ship. The ship is expected to be 70 percent complete at launch, well prepared for subsequent shipboard testing.

"Ongoing design and new technology development during the construction process caused delays in material procurement, manufacturing and assembly."

NAVSEA said that first-of-class producibility issues impacting the schedule included the use of thinner steels which caused difficulties with structural erection; new processes for advanced coating systems; and qualification of new material components.

"The shipbuilder recommended a delay in launch in order to accomplish greater completion levels prior to launch and thereby enable the lead ship to be completed most economically. The Navy agreed," said NAVSEA

NAVSEA noted that current shipyard construction cost estimates are consistent with a Navy estimate reported by the Navy in its December 2011 CVN 78 Selected Acquisition Report. That projected a most likely total ship end cost of $12.887 billion. This includes the cost of construction, government furnished equipment, and design funding of $3.3 billion for non-recurring engineering which is the investment in the 11 ship class design (not just the lead ship of the class, CVN 78).

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