Home » Budget Industry » Pentagon Orders Shock Test for Carrier Gerald Ford, Could Delay First Deployment  

Pentagon Orders Shock Test for Carrier Gerald Ford, Could Delay First Deployment  

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Nov. 17, 2013) – Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) transits the James River during the ship’s launch and transit to Newport News Shipyard pier three for the final stages of construction and testing. The Ford was christened Nov. 9, 2013, and is currently under construction at Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipyard (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Second Class Aidan P. Campbell/Released)

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Nov. 17, 2013) – Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) transits the James River during the ship’s launch and transit to Newport News Shipyard pier three for the final stages of construction and testing. The Ford was christened Nov. 9, 2013, and is currently under construction at Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipyard (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Second Class Aidan P. Campbell/Released)

The Navy has been ordered by the Office of Secretary Defense to conduct shock tests on first-in-class carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) in a move that could delay the initial deployment of the ship.

A spokeswoman for the service confirmed to USNI News on Tuesday the Navy had received direction for shock tests for the Ford-class from OSD but didn’t provide additional details.

The direction from OSD came in an Aug. 7 memo from Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L) Frank Kendall to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.

The memo — first reported by Bloomberg News — directed the Navy to conduct the tests before Ford’s initial deployment and have the tests be fully funded as part of the service’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget submission and present a plan to OSD in December.

“The operational implications of any delay to CVN 78 entering the CVN deployment cycle caused by scheduling the [shock tests] prior to initial deployment are acknowledged and were considered, “read a portion of the memo cited in Defense News.

The service had planned to conduct the shock trails — which use live explosives to test the survivability of a ship’s system under extreme conditions — with second carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) to preserve the deployment schedule of the delayed Ford.

However, the ship is not scheduled to enter the fleet until the early 2020s.

Ford  is nearing completion at Huntington Ingalls Industries’ yard in Newport News, Va. and is slated to deliver to the service in March of next year.

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Categories: Budget Industry, News & Analysis, Surface Forces, U.S. Navy
Sam LaGrone

About Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He was formerly the U.S. Maritime Correspondent for the Washington D.C. bureau of Jane’s Defence Weekly and Jane’s Navy International. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.

  • Ctrot

    I would have thought doing a shock test was a given?

  • Secundius

    Isn’t THIS putting the “Cart Before the Horse”? What happens if it FAIL’S?? Two MORE years, of wastED or wastING time???

    • Duncan Idaho

      Wouldn’t you rather find out during testing, rather than when it’s in service?

      • johnbull

        This seems sort of like a “no-brainer” to me. Sure, it may knock things back a few months if there are problems, but better find problems now than later, particularly if it is something that can be addressed more easily on CVN-79 as it is being built.

      • Secundius

        @ Duncan Idaho.

        Aren’t these Components Shock Tested before being Supplied to the Navy, or even during Construction when the Ship is the Most Vulnerable…

  • Scott Mccord

    A better description of ‘shock tests’ is warranted…. also, do all ships receive these, and, if not, why specifically were these tests ordered for Ford? If ordered due to new carrier class, it seems this need should have been planned for (cost/schedule) long ago

    • Duncan Idaho

      By law, all ships are to be shock tested.

      • Scott Mccord

        thanks! very helpful

      • gunnerv1

        No they are not, it is usually the “Lead” ship of the class that is “Shock” Tested. I was a member of the Commissioning Crew (“Plank Owner”) of the USS KNOX (DE/FF 1052) and that was the ONLY ship of the KNOX Class of DE’s/FF’s that was tested. The “Test” consisted of suspending a “Large” explosive charge underwater approximately 100 feet at about 1000 feet from the Ship being tested and detonated to see if the Hull structure and the ships equipment (Ordnance/Electronics) will survive a “Near Miss”.

        • Duncan Idaho

          That’s right, I meant to say “all ship classes”, not every single ship.

          • gunnerv1

            The “Shock Trial” the we went through put us out of Commission for a few weeks (Main Engineering only) and we had to be towed back to the yards. Conventional Weapons System (Gun) got hurt the most, the gun had operational issues to the day (and beyond) I was transferred. We didn’t start getting serious support from the Manufactures Representatives until my last year aboard.

        • AncientSubHunter

          …”usually the ‘lead’ ship…Okay, I’ll bite and I’ll weigh in on your “usually” since my boat, CVN-71, received a shock test (CVN-68 being the lead ship of the class)…and google images the USS Mobile Bay and USS Arkansas getting a shock test…youtube has the USS Winston Churchill getting one…(none of these were the lead of their class).

          And are you certain that the Knox was the only frigate in her class to be shock tested? Verifiable evidence for your claim?

          All can google “OPNAV INSTRUCTION 9072.2A” and read the (latest?) instruction regarding this subject. Choose the PDF entry…the 2013 instruction.

          • gunnerv1

            Also goes by “Hull Structural Changes, Major Engineering Propulsion, Major Ordnance Changes”, also the word “Usually” is NOT “all” inclusive.

          • AncientSubHunter

            I addressed your word usage…now, any evidence to your claim?

            …no breath-holding here.

          • gunnerv1

            No “breath holding”, I rely on my own 21 years of experience of “active duty”, Nine “afloat duty stations” (8 FF/DE, DDG and 1 AD) and 2 Shore Stations.

          • AncientSubHunter

            Good morning…you made a claim…and your 21 years of experience is nothing more than anecdotal.

            I did 10 years, have over 1500 hours in multiple platforms, over 220 arrested landings on 3 boats,,,,BIG DEAL.

            My experience isn’t a good enough excuse or answer should I make a claim about anything.

            You challenged Duncan’s claim (acting as an authority on the issue) with information that was inaccurate. I showed the inaccuracy. And I asked you to provide information that is independently verifiable.

            You didn’t have to respond. But you did.

            And now you’ve provided 2 responses with only a word usage game and your outstanding history of deck service in the Navy…both of which in this context, sad to say, are non-answers.

            Clearly, you don’t know. It is a technical issue and you can’t provide verifiable evidence to support a technical claim.

            Sadly, you are like most in this country who post on the net (and shame on the vets who should know better) and make unsubstantiated claims.

            History (and most importantly the story of the US Navy sailor) and a site like USNI deserve better.

            I wish you well.

          • gunnerv1

            So if you know the answers, then provide them, I’m not going to go hunting for them. It’s the same thing I use to tell my students at Gunnery School, “show your work” during weekly test. So you’re an “Airdale Zero” that’s supposed to carry weight? I’d trust a Chief (even an “Airdale” Chief) before a “Zero” until I worked with them. Not being “Snarky”, it’s just the way it is in the “Chief’s Mess”, especially on an FF/FFG/DDG type Combatant. Also known as “Earn the Respect” (works in both directions). Have a Great Day, Mate.

          • AncientSubHunter

            Just like your claim to your boat being the only one in the class to have been shock tested, you assume too much.

            The only zero here is your ability to comprehend simple English sentence structure, the responsibility of a claimant when they tell another that they are wrong and the failure to then support your own claims.

            Like you, I was a black shoe. Like you, I was an instructor. And I’m embarrassed to think that you were a leader/instructor with the propensity you’ve shown here toward assumptions and lack of understanding of an argument’s claims and counter claims.

            I don’t know the answer…this thread was relying on someone with your claims to provide accurate, truthful, and verifiable evidence and instruction…you remember what your responsibilities were as an instructor, don’t you?

            Obviously, you don’t know the answer either.

            Sadly, arrogant ignorance isn’t limited to those outside the military, nor is it in short supply among many E-7 to E-9s and most LCDRs.

            I’ve enjoyed this exchange. Cheers.

          • gunnerv1

            “OPNAV 4700.8 4.4.7 SHOCK TRIALS, Shock Trials are designed to test characteristics of a ship under deliberate and controlled conditions. Normally scheduled for the First Ship of a Class, just before Post Shakedown Availability (PSA). Shock Trials satisfy Congressionally mandated Live Fire Test and Evaluation Requirements.” Applies to all Surface Ships and Submarines (Paraphrased) You may quote the OPNAV or me (I was right without even thinking about it hard, JUST LIKE WHEN I WAS AN INSTRUCTOR AND IN THE CHIEFS MESS. (A quote from me to my students, “If I don’t have the (Verifiable) answer during this class period, I’ll have it before the day is out.” (and I NEVER failed)). Every ship I served in (after #3) won the Gunnery E” by the time I departed it.(You would have never made it in OUR Chiefs Mess, is that why you have less than eleven years of service in MY Navy?). You were also not a “Black Shoe”, Airedales are “Brown Shoes”, Goes back to the beginnings of Naval Aviation when Officers and CPO’s wore a Dark Green Dress Uniform and BROWN SHOES. Now that I’ve done your work for you, Go Forth and Shock a Ship for the Team. “Have a Nice Day, Mate”

          • AncientSubHunter

            Hi, Gunner…Nice job!

            But you should really read the OPNAV I referred to several posts ago…it’s not a subsection of an instruction as yours is…it is the instruction.

            Your continue to provide your resume and it is outstanding.

            You said:

            “(You would have never made it in OUR Chiefs Mess, is that why you have less than eleven years of service in MY Navy?)”

            Really, Chief, you should reconsider your need to make personal judgments on someone you’ve never met or worked with…I see that need boldface in your opinions posted elsewhere. It only displays a level of immaturity which I hope isn’t a perennial characteristic of your character.

            Lastly, you continue to assume and your assumption-making shows how deficient you are regarding other warfare areas of the Navy.

            E-6 and below are not “brown shoes.” You are, however, correct that E-7 and above are. Again, reading comprehension plays a role.

            I left the Nav as an E-6. With the end of the “First” Cold War, the “end” of the Soviet submarine threat, and the Bush 41 defense cuts, my rate was offered a bonus to leave.

            Worst mistake I made.

            Again, I wish you well. Cheers.

          • gunnerv1

            I apologize and beg your forgiveness, maybe we can have a civil discourse. You may ask what brought this reversal? The second to last sentence in your last comment. “Worst Mistake I Made” (lets just pretend that we’er like two ships in the night (with really bad “lookouts”) that just ‘scraped paint’ and continued to sail on.)

          • AncientSubHunter

            Chief, you have no need to apologize. You’ve earned the right to be who you are. Your posts that describe what you’ve accomplish confirm that.

            I would have been honored to serve with you…obvioulsy I would have had my a$$ handed to me and been chewed out frequently….but would have known you cared about your crew, your weaps and your ships (the Battle E’s confirm that.)

            We airedales are an arrogant group, certain we are always right and better than everyone else, particularly the surface Navy. Of course, we are full of our own mythology…among being full of other putrid substances.

            I’ve come to truly understand that all the Navy rests on the back of and is carried by the deck sailor. And most of us refuse to acknowledge that, much less appreciate it.

            I appreciate that you focused in on my regret. If I could go back with what I know now and who I am today I’d swim in every moment and every detail of each day I had…most specifically at sea.
            As others did, I complained and dreaded going to the boat…now, I’d give anything to be at sea all the time like some of these merchant sailors are.

            So two ships and poorly trained lookouts it is!

            I really do wish you well in the years ahead. Savor the memories.

            Take care, Gunner.

          • gunnerv1

            Please notice that I said “Officer and CPO’s” and I rarely use “Boldface” except to make a Point, as to draw the reader to that area (I know that All Caps equals Yelling). Please check you reading comprehension at the door.

  • Charles Buckman

    If you are going to shock test, it sees as if it would be with the first ship in any class BEFORE deployment. It would be too late to find out about potential failure of ship’s structure or sensitive electronics when in a real engagement with one of our many enemies.

  • Donny C

    A waste of money and time. Then Navy has better things to do. As we saw at Okinawa with the USS Laffey – some ships never sink even after 15 kamakazes hit.

    • Secundius

      @ Donny C.

      USS. Laffey, took 4 direct Bomb Hits and 6 Kamikaze Hits, NOT 15…

  • Tom Fortin

    When we had 14 carriers, and a well-funded DoD, we could do the required testing, training, and maintenance. When you have only 10 carriers, you have to keep a presence in-theater and there’s no slop in any other ship’s schedule and delays like this are a MAJOR issue. Yard periods are cut short or cut altogether, and vital steps in the acquisition process get short-changed. I’m not agreeing with it, I’m just telling you how it is.

    • redgriffin

      No ship should join the fleet until all trails and test have been run and passed that should be a given and no ship should be counted as in the fleet until it’s first deployment until then it is working up. As the Ford is a modified Nimitz Class it should be subjected to all tests necessary to prove the Navy and the DOD that they have the best weapons systems they can get.

    • Red Baron

      All the more reason to do testing. You have to make sure that this new type of carrier is capable. Testing on the second carrier in the class never made any sense.

      • Tom Fortin

        Totally agree!

  • publius_maximus_III

    Isn’t a “near miss” unlikely to occur given the accuracy of today’s ASM and ASBM guidance systems? Maybe it’s a legacy test that has lost its usefulness in today’s modern Navy.

    I do hope this last minute decision wasn’t a -shock- for the ship builder, thinking their first-in-class carrier was getting a bye on the shock testing, and concentrating instead on doing a “super” welding job on their NEXT hull.

    • Red Baron

      It is apparent that you cannot explode ordinance directly on the carrier. This is the next best thing and could show up deficiencies that need addressing.

      • publius_maximus_III

        Snoopy — They used to test fire cannons at medieval foundries. Unfortunately, such testing could not reliably predict what would happen the -next- time the cannon was fired (on a battlefield).

  • Capt Woody Sanford

    In fall 1966, I was in the Medical Officer’s Submarine School at Groton, CT. Our class was shown a movie about the experience of the USS Thresher(# ?) being towed decks awash through an exploding mine field. Cameras inside and outside the hull showed violent movement. I know Thresher had a yard period after this episode, but I have wondered since if some unrecognized damage did not contribute to Thresher’s loss with all hands later. Woody

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  • Secundius

    DID (Defense Industry Daily), expects possible 6-months delay in tests…

  • Joel Weinbaum

    What?…insitu NDT! They should make a movie of that. And the Thresher, you think? Thats like wrecking your car at the Highway Safety Institute, getting it rebuilt, then told its okay to drive because its like new.

  • Joel Weinbaum

    Better yet, take the Ford out at the next hurricane season, find a Katrina, and drive through it at WOT…several times while conducting flight ops, and refueling of task force ships. Now that is a test of sea worthiness.

  • John B. Morgen

    Such tests should be no surprise to anyone because the carrier is the class leader of a new type aircraft carrier. We must know if the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) could survive enemy attacks. Really, this story is a non-issue, and it shouldn’t been reported. I considered such tests as part of the carrier’s sea trials. She will pass the tests, and then be deploy…..Really, no big deal.

  • vetww2

    Totally useless. Enough previous data. Underkeel torpedo or mine..GOODBYE ship. Let’s do a new inclinning experiment, a crash test and lots of other money, time and tech wasters.

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  • Fred Jones

    Looks like the safest thing to do is build more transitional ships like the USS George H.W. Bush. These new technologies might just not be combat ready.