HHI Reports Progress on USS Kennedy

By The Maritime Executive 02-23-2018 10:14:00

Huntington Ingalls' Newport News shipyard announced this week that it has built 70 percent of the hull structures for the next-generation carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN 79). 

Like the first-in-class USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), Kennedy is being built with a modular technique in which smaller sections of the ship are welded together to form larger structures called superlifts. The superlifts are pre-outfitted and hoisted into the drydock with a 1,000-tonne gantry crane.

The 800-tonne superlift in the video above consists of 17 individual units, and it includes berthing areas, electrical equipment rooms and workshops. It took HHI shipbuilders 18 months to build. “This superlift is in the forward part of the ship, about halfway between the bow and midship,” said Mike Butler, program director for the Kennedy. “It represents one of the key build strategy changes for Kennedy: building superlifts that are larger and more complete before they are erected on the ship."

At a construction cost of $13 billion, USS Gerald R. Ford is the most expensive ship the U.S. Navy - or any other organization - has ever made. HHI says that it is working to reduce construction costs for the next two hulls in the series, and the Navy forecasts the price for the Kennedy somewhat lower at about $11 billion. In addition to building larger, more complete superlifts, HHI is trying to trim cost by moving more work indoors, which gives shipbuilders better access to tools, equipment and crane support. It also has programs in place to solicit cost-cutting ideas from its workforce.

USS Kennedy is scheduled to launch in 2020, and her delivery is expected in 2024. The third vessel in the class, USS Enterprise (CVN-80), is also under construction and is slated for delivery in 2027.