Asia Defense

US Navy’s $13 Billion Supercarrier to Begin Acceptance Trials in May

Following the successful completion of acceptance trials, the U.S. Navy expects a quick delivery.

US Navy’s $13 Billion Supercarrier to Begin Acceptance Trials in May
Credit: US Navy

The U.S. Navy’s long-delayed nuclear-powered Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), the lead of ship of the United States’ latest class of carriers, will begin acceptance trials this month, according to acting Navy Secretary Sean Stackley, USNI News reports.

The new carrier is slated to head to sea before May 29 for its acceptance trials. Last month, the ship successfully completed builder’s sea trials.  The acceptance trials are conducted by the U.S. Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey, whereas last month’s tests were overseen by Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding and the Navy’s CVN 78 Program Office, among others.

“Delivery, pending the results of acceptance trials, we expect to turn delivery around quickly after that,” Stackley said. “The crew is already onboard, operating and running the systems; she’s at the naval station; she’s loaded out; so the steps to go from acceptance trials to delivery, it’s going to be contingent on, what are the critical starred card type of deficiencies – if any – that are identified during acceptance trials.”

The new aircraft carrier features a number of new systems including a new dual-band radar system, a new advanced arresting gear (AAG) on the flight deck, so-called advanced weapons elevators, and two new main turbine generators.  Fine-tuning these new systems have contributed to the aircraft carrier’s delay.

The carrier will also be equipped with General Dynamics’ new electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) technology.  The EMALS technology has recently come under critic by U.S. President Donald Trump who thinks that the U.S. Navy should abandon electromagnetic catapults and return to a steam-powered launch and recovery system.

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“I said what system are you going to be–‘Sir, we’re staying with digital.’[EMALS] I said no you’re not. You going to goddamned steam, the digital costs hundreds of millions of dollars more money and it’s no good,” Trump told Time Magazine in an interview on May 11.

“We came out of builders trials strong, we’re correcting those deficiencies” now before the ship heads back out to sea,” Stackley added. “I’m pretty confident right now in a good [acceptance trials] and a quick turn around to deliver the ship.” The acceptance trials will include the launch and recovery of aircraft from the carrier’s flight deck.

“The 100,000-ton Ford-class is the first new carrier design since the USS Nimitz over 40 years ago. Work on three more Ford-class carriers is already under way (CVN-79, CVN-80, and CVN-81).  The Ford’s follow-on, the John F. Kennedy, will likely be commissioned with a two-year delay in 2020,” I reported elsewhere.  A commissioning date for the lead ship has still not been scheduled but it is expected that the carrier will join the U.S. Navy later in the year.