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Report: Parts Pulled From Unfinished Carrier to Sustain USS Ford

USS Ford
USN file image

Published Nov 16, 2021 10:31 PM by The Maritime Executive

As the first-in-class carrier USS Gerald R. Ford gears up for her first deployment in 2022, the U.S. Navy is pulling parts off the second-in-class USS John F. Kennedy in order to ensure Ford has enough spares, according to USNI News. 

Ford was commissioned in July 2017, two years behind schedule and $2 billion over budget, and she is now four additional years behind schedule for deployment. She has been bedeviled by issues with multiple major systems - first bearing failures, then breakdowns of her first-of-a-kind electromagnetic launch catapults and arresting gear, then failures of her electromagnetically-actuated weapons elevators. Concerns remain over whether the $13 billion carrier will be able to generate fighter sorties at the rate her designers intended. Her technologically-complex weapons elevators are still not completely ready, but the Navy says that the last few units will be certified for operation by the time she leaves her current shipyard period.

Four years after Ford's delivery, as the carrier gets ready to get under way, the Navy says that it is still developing the supply chain to provide the vessel with spare parts. A spokesman confirmed to USNI that the service has pulled parts off of USS Kennedy to use aboard USS Ford, but only when "the parts or materials were not available in the supply system." 

The quantity removed was "a relatively small volume of materials," a spokesperson for shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries told USNI. The parts included control panels, motor controllers, power supplies, valve actuators, limit switches and pumps, among other components.

“A common shipbuilding practice for the first ship in class is to share parts between ships in order to maximize readiness until a class-wide supply system is established," the HII spokesperson said. 

The Navy says that removing equipment from USS Kennedy will not delay Kennedy's delivery, which is currently slated for 2024. The vessel was launched in October 2019 and is undergoing outfitting alongside the pier at Newport News.

USS Ford underwent full-ship shock trials (exposure to underwater explosions) in August, the first time that a carrier has been subjected to this test regimen in decades. The process involves detonating 40,000 tonnes of explosives at relatively close range, and it is intended to evaluate the ship's ability to survive a near miss. Ford passed the tests and headed into shipyard for a planned maintenance period shortly afterwards.