The Navy awarded Newport News Shipbuilding $25.5 million to begin advance fabrication of aircraft carrier Enterprise (CVN-80).
After beginning advance construction planning activities last spring, initial structure fabrication and shop work on the third Ford-class carrier should last through March 2018, the company announced in a statement.
“This award authorizes us to begin fabrication of structural components, sub-components, sub-units and pre-assemblies in our manufacturing shops to support the 2018 construction of Enterprise,” Mike Shawcross, Newport News’ vice president of CVN-79 and CVN-80 construction, said in the statement.
“This is an important step in getting this next Ford-class ship off to a great start, as it allows us to continue implementation of lessons learned, and the initial steel work will allow us to utilize our aircraft carrier steel production line in an efficient manner.”
The Navy awarded Newport News Shipbuilding a $152-miliion contract in May 2016 to begin advance planning activities, and this week’s money was added as a contract modification. Construction on Enterprise should begin in 2018, and the ship is expected to deliver to the Navy in 2027. Enterprise will replace the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) upon entering the fleet.
In its statement this week, Newport News Shipbuilding stated that “shipbuilders have captured thousands of lessons learned and developed new build approaches during construction of Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), most of which are being implemented as cost-saving initiatives in building the second ship in the class, John F. Kennedy (CVN-79). These initiatives will also apply to Enterprise, and (parent company Huntington Ingalls Industries) will work with the Navy to identify additional cost-saving initiatives for future Ford-class carrier construction.”
In an early example of implementing lessons learned, the shipyard moved a 704-metric ton unit into John F. Kennedy’s dry dock as part of a unique “superlift” event.
“The superlift is part of an improved build strategy implemented on the second ship of the Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) class, resulting in superlifts erected at a higher state of outfitting completion,” the company said in a Jan. 23 news release.
“Kennedy is being built using modular construction, a process where smaller sections of the ship are welded together to form large structural units, equipment is installed, and the large units are lifted into the dry dock using the shipyard’s 1,050-metric ton gantry crane.”
CVN-79 is about 25 percent complete and set for deliver in 2022, when it will replace USS Nimitz (CVN-68). The ship is on tract to be completed with 445 lifts, which is 51 fewer than Ford and 149 fewer than USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), the last Nimitz-class carrier, according to a company statement.