NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- The Navy's next aircraft carrier, Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), reached a significant step in its construction with the placement of a 945-ton superlift - the largest lifted to date - at Huntington Ingalls Industries' Newport News facility, May 21.
The carrier is being constructed using a modular process that welds together smaller sections to form larger structural units called superlifts. The resulting superlifts are pre-outfitted and placed into the construction dry dock by the shipyard's newly upgraded 1,050-metric-ton crane.
"This superlift is a notable step in making our newest class of nuclear aircraft carriers a reality," said CVN 21 Future Aircraft Carrier Program, Program Manager Capt. Brian Antonio. "This new, modular approach to construction, with both increased weight and outfitting, signals increased efficiency and the Navy's forward progress in shipbuilding methods."
The contract for CVN 78 provides incentivized funds for the shipbuilder if facility improvements are implemented to yield increased efficiencies and cost saving on future work. By upgrading the existing shipyard crane from a 900-metric-ton capacity to a 1,050-metric-ton capacity, the builder now has the ability to place larger, heavier superlifts in the drydock, which in turn allows more work to be completed within the shipyard at lower cost to the government.
This most recent superlift, one of 162 total that will eventually make up the completed carrier, was erected near the stern of the ship. It was assembled from 18 smaller structural units over 16 months and contains a diesel generator room, a pump room, an oily water waste pump room, 16 complete tanks and 18 partial tanks that will be completed once the superlift is welded to the adjacent units.
Gerald R. Ford-class represents the next-generation class of aircraft carriers and features an enhanced flight deck, improved weapons movement, a redesigned island, a new nuclear power plant, electromagnetic catapults, and growth margin for future technologies and reduced manning. CVN 78's keel was laid Nov. 14, 2009. The carrier's christening is scheduled for 2013, followed by delivery to the Navy in 2015. Long lead material procurement for the second ship of the class, CVN 79, began in 2009 and the first steel for her construction was cut in February.
PEO Aircraft Carriers, an affiliated PEO of the Naval Sea Systems Command, focuses on the design, construction, delivery, system integration and life-cycle support of all aircraft carriers.
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