As future USS Gerald R. Ford nears commissioning, future of class takes shape

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - As the first in a brand new class of aircraft carrier readies to join the active naval fleet, the next ship of the class is already taking shape.

The future USS Gerald R. Ford is set to be commissioned at Naval Station Norfolk on Saturday, July 22nd.

The Ford (CVN 78) is the first of a new class of nuclear-powered aircraft carrier for the U.S. Navy, designed to replace the Nimitz-class ships.

The Ford-class features a new design and new technology for the Navy.

While the Ford readies for commissioning, Newport News Shipbuilding is already hard at work on the next ship in the class.

The future USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) is now 50% structurally complete with the addition of the lower stern in June.

Like the Ford, the Kennedy is being build using modular construction, meaning smaller sections of the ship are being welded together to form larger units called superlifts.

“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 Kennedy is on track to be completed with 445 lifts, which is 51 fewer than the Ford and 149 fewer than the USS George H. W. Bush, which is the last Nimitz-class carrier.

More than 3,000 people are currently working on the Kennedy, which is set to launch in February of 2020.

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