Aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy is now 50 percent structurally complete

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - The aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) is now 50 percent structurally complete, Huntington Ingalls Industries has announced.

The ship is currently under construction at Newport News Shipbuilding.

The 50 percent milestone was reached as the 70-foot lower stern was lifted into place on Thursday.

“This is a significant milestone in the ship’s construction schedule,” said Mike Shawcross, Newport News’ vice president, John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) and Enterprise (CVN 80) aircraft carrier construction. “We are halfway through lifting the units onto the ship, and many of the units are larger and nearly all are more complete than the CVN 78 lifts were. This is one of many lessons learned from the construction of the lead ship that are helping to reduce construction costs and improve efficiencies on Kennedy.”

The John F. Kennedy will be the second Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier and is being built like the first, using a modular construction process.

During the process, smaller sections of the ship are welded together to form larger units, which are called "superlifts." Then the equipment is installed in those units before they are lifted into the dry dock by Newport News Shipbuilding's 1,050-metric ton gantry crane.

The lift of the 932-ton lower stern took about an hour to complete. The lower stern contains 30 individual units and includes the ship's rudders, steering gear rooms, and electrical power distribution room.

Newport News Shipbuilding expects the ship to be completed with 445 lifts, which is 51 fewer than the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) and 149 fewer than the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), which was the last Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.