Shipping & Shipbuilding News - 26 December 2012 - The Brightest Maritime Daily

USS GERALD R FORD in Newport News' drydock

Aircraft Carrier Nears Completion US Style
The UK and US are building two pairs of new era carriers..differently!...

We've all seen the news reports on television, showing the gleaming sections of the latest UK aircraft carrier, HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH II, being towed around the coasts to Rosyth for final assembly and fitting.

Go to Govan on the Clyde and pretty soon another section, this time for HMS PRINCE OF WALES the second of the UK's pair, will sit on the hard, again all gleaming and painted after it emerges from the construction hall. To British eyes then the accompanying photo must look odd indeed.

This is the USS GERALD R FORD, building at Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News Virginia. To eyes accustomed to shiny sections emerging into daylight in British yards, it rather looks like an old ship being recycled rather than a new one under construction, however, she is now 90% complete and before long she will be painted and ready for 'launch' when the drydock is filled with water and she is floated out, resplendant in US Navy livery and almost ready for trials. (see artists depiction below)

The GERALD R FORD is the first in class,and will replace the iconic USS ENTERPRISE which saw the beginning of the end of her 51 year career this month at a deactivation ceremony. The second of the new Ford class, the JOHN F KENNEDY is also under construction,

The GERALD R FORD and her sister will be of 100,000 tons displacement and a length of 1,092 feet. This is significanly larger than our own HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH who will be 65,600 tons and 932 feet in length. The US ship will have a speed of 30 knots compared to the ELIZABETH's 25 knots.

Once the island section is lowered onto the GERALD R FORD, the ship will be almost complete, and christening is expected some time in 2013 with service in 2015

"The entire construction team has done a great job in reaching the 90 percent structural completion milestone," said Rolf Bartschi Newport News Shipbuildings project manager in charge of the building of GERALD R FORD

"All of our shipbuilders take great pride in seeing the flight deck take shape and in the work they have accomplished to build the systems and spaces within the ship. The lifts we have accomplished are massive, which is in keeping with our larger-unit build strategy. Our electricians have installed 3 million feet of cable to date and install on average 10,000 feet of cable a day. Our shipbuilders continue to demonstrate their capabilities and commitment to a quality product."

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