Home » Budget Industry » Newport News Shipbuilding Awarded $25M For CVN-80 Advance Fabrication

Newport News Shipbuilding Awarded $25M For CVN-80 Advance Fabrication

A 2013 artist's concept of the future carrier Enterprise (CVN-80). DoD Image

A 2013 artist’s concept of the future carrier Enterprise (CVN-80). DoD Image

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.

  • muzzleloader

    CVN-65 is being formally decommissioned on Feb. 4th. It is heartening to hear that work on her namesake is beginning.
    BTW Megan, many of us readers have only seen you in the cranial and goggles. Might be nice someday to use a photo where we can see what you really look like! Lol.

    • Uncle Mike


      • Leatherstocking

        She just wants to stay anonymous because she worked on Capitol Hill and is rightly ashamed of the experience.
        But Huzzah for Enterprise, two wonderful carriers in a line of named ships for 300+ years.

  • Aubrey

    The thought of a new Enterprise (finally!!) has me…err, excited. And we’ll leave it at that, shall we…

  • Marcd30319

    “Let’s make sure history never forgets the name … Enterprise.”
    – Jean-Luc Picard

  • tpuhinesor

    Why not lend/lease (or even sell) the NIMITZ/EISENHOWER to Japan. It will probably take a few hundred million dollars to bring them up to date – but compared to current building costs for FORD class carriers, it would be of tremendous benefit to both our countries. If the USAF can keep a B-52 operational for 100 years, sending the NIMITZ/EISENHOWER to the breakers yard after only 50 years in service is really stupid!

    • delta9991

      Lot of problems with that. First, their constitution does not allow for aircraft carriers. Their helicopter destroyers skirt the line by being for ASW, but a Nimitz couldn’t even be reasonably considered defensive. Then there is the logistical aspect. Japan has no carrier capable aircraft (or infrastructure/crew to support them), no carrier air crew, and no institutional knowledge of how to support, operate or equip a domestic carrier (not to mention she’s expensive). Then there are the problems for the Nimitz herself. She’s becoming outdated and needs overhauls, has a service life and almost no margin to upgrade with next gen techs. She doesn’t have enough power onboard for EMALS, AAG, or new defense systems like LaWS. The comparison is apples to oranges, it doesn’t work. She’s a great ship, but only a fit for the USN

      • Donald Carey

        Or, possibly, India.

        • Aubrey


          Owning and operating a CVN ain’t like picking up a Chevy Malibu at Uncle Fred’s Used Cars. You can count on one hand the number of nations with the infrastructure, personnel, logistics and will to even consider such a thing.

          I very much doubt Japan would even consider such a thing…and India needs to do much the same thing China is right now (operate a small, cheap carrier to start the learning process while such infrastructure is designed and built).

          The CVN itself is only a very small part of the issue.

          • Donald Carey

            India has experience with CV’s. It has operated them for decades and is building one of its own (the 44,000 ton Vikrant.), that is expected to be in service in 2018, India also has experience with nuclear power, so no, it is not the same situation with as China’s CV.

        • Marcd30319

          There was talk about India getting either the Kitty Hawk following her decommissioning but apparently she was in such a materially deficient condition tht the deal could not bet struck.

      • tpuhinesor

        If it takes 4 years to refuel the nuclear component and do maintenance and upgrades to the rest of the ship, that, I believe, would be sufficient time for the Japanese to get their act together and train and learn how to operate a Nimitz class carrier. The Japanese
        P.M. Abe, appears anxious to rewrite MacArthur’s constitution to allow for offensive operations against an Asian bully. I do believe Japanese pilots could learn how to operate F-35’s in 4 years as well as training the balance of the crew how to run the various operational functions. Otherwise, the Navy Department will sell off the Nimitz class carriers for a Lincoln cent after all the billions poured into this part of the triad to counter Russian, read Soviet, aggression, which is again Soviet aggression, thanks to Putin. Insofar as the nuclear reactors are concerned, while I don’t know a damn thing how they install or refuel them, the new reactors going into the FORD class carriers could probably be installed by cutting the various decks open, taking out the old reactors and replace with the new improved reactors. I don’t think that is an impossible task just like waking up and finding Mr. Trump was the next president (which initially I thought was a very late April fools joke).

        • Marcd30319

          There are very legitimate technical and security reasons for not doing what you are suggesting. The Nimitz-class nuclear reactors are still highly classified.

          Please recall that when the British wanted to build their first nuclear submarine, the Dreadnought, they wanted to use U.S. naval reactor technology to leap-frog the process get the sub to sea ASAP. That turned into a highly protracted and contentious negotiation between Rickover and Mountbatten, and since then , the Royal Navy only use naval reactors of their own design.

          • tpuhinesor

            I can imagine that all of the piping which carries the heated water/steam from the nuclear reactor to the electrical generators needs to be replaced. I imagine that the original NIMITZ reactors could be covered over in canvass before being lifted out; same goes for the new replacement reactors. Of course, I do not know if there is a 3″ or thicker deck above the reactors which have to be cut through. And, I would think that the reactors would not actually be sitting on the bottom of the ships hull; the new torpedoes in use today are set to explode under a ship breaking her back. I do know that Congress passed a law which prohibits any F-22 Raptor from being exported. What I don’t know is who made the decision not to replace the reactors so the NIMITZ could have sufficient electricity to run EMALS, AAG, or new defense systems like LaWS. And if the NIMITZ is actually upgraded with new efficient reactors, why even think about putting her in the reserve fleet. Unless of course her hull has been eaten away by salt water and she is lucky to remain afloat (like the BB TEXAS) . To train a Japanese crew the easiest way would be to put each department on a OPERATING different NIMITZ class carrier and in the end, merge all the Japanese on the NIMITZ. The air maintenance crew could do their training on land just like Jimmy Doolittle practiced take-offs from the length of an aircraft carrier but on land. The Navy is very good at disposing of still operational war vessels, like the ENTERPRISE. So, who decided that if the ENTERPRISE went on another MED cruise, she wouldn’t make it back to Norfolk?

          • tpuhinesor

            A couple of things which rattle around in my brain:
            1. I believe the old navy had a saying “CAN DO”; now it is “CAN’T DO”.
            2. Maybe I’m getting confused with the WW II SEABEES motto?
            3. LCS ships/boats: Home ported in San Diego and the East Coast. What are they doing in CONUS? The LCS area of ops is Asia and the middle East, not to be used for intercepting illegal border crossers from Mexico and Latin America who try to arrive by boat and home made submarines. Besides, they break down too often.

          • Marcd30319

            1 & 2: You are correct — “Can Do” is the motto for the SeaBees.
            3: Training and operation in the Fourth Fleet AOR (Latin America) including UNITAS exercises.

          • tpuhinesor

            So, when you put a NIMITZ class carrier into a 4-year rehab mode, what do they do? Seems like sufficient time to rewire the carrier and replace the nuclear reactors. I have heard or read that when the ENTERPRISE went on her first extended cruise all 8 reactors were up and running and although the speed attained is confidential, the ship started to shake apart.

          • Marcd30319

            This isn’t a simple plug-and-go swap-out. Naval reactors are very complex and there are inherent limitations. I suggest you do some research on this subject. There is a 2015 Wired article or the 2010 Rand Corporation RCOH study.

          • Marcd30319

            First, I am not sure about any Congressional prohibition about the export of the F-22. I recall reading about potential sells to Israel and Japan, but given the technology, I think it unlikely that that there will ever be any export of the F-22.

            Regarding all the rest of the Nimitz comments, the technological challenges are so extensive that you basically have to gut and re-wire the entire ship which after nearly 50 years of operation.

            As I I recal,l during the final deployment of the Enterprise, press coverage noted that the ship had systems that were no longer being manufactured and there were no replacement parts. Also, the hull itself had thinned out after 52 years of operation.

            Please note that Enterprise was originally designed for a 30-year life cycle. That fact that the Navy was able to get an additionally 22 years of operational life of Enterprise was a testament to the soundness of her design and construction. I think anything beyond 50 year is really pushing the practical limits inherent for such a high-performance ships as a Nimitz-class supercarrier that no amount of wishful thinking can overcome.

      • CVN68-Tomcat

        With all due respect, all any carrier is, is a large hull and collection of sub-systems with turns the above into a plane truck. EMALS and AAG are in no way necessary for the ship to conduct flight ops. Reactors from Nimitz class to Ford class will differ on steam flow and automation. Nimitz requires more steam as it uses steam cats and service steam for heating and gallies. Ford uses electricity for emals and for use in gallies. All U.S. Carriers with Catobar systems have steam for cats and hydraulics for arresting gear. EMALS and AAG despite all the hype offer very little increase in combat effectiveness. Radar, Communications and Self Defense systems are technology insert items and are soft refits. To try to reconfigure Nimitz to Ford Systems is a massive bucket of hurt. Alternatively Carriers are so large they probably could be re-fitted for 100 years or more of service, but the shipbuilding infrastructure would lose shipbuilding skills eventually. The Japanese would imho be much better off with the Charles De Gaulle Carrier of France. The British carrier really stinks. The U.S. And France have trapped “landed” each other’s aircrafts aboard the others carriers and launched each other’s aircraft, the Charles De Gaulle uses catapults and arresting gear compatible with our carriers and aircraft. The Brits chose to do a typically British thing and eschew common systems. Tremendous flexibility is gained from being able to support allies aircraft at sea. Long story short, I would love to see Nimitz live on and sail the seas after the U.S. has replaced her. However Japan’s experience with nuclear power does not instill confidence, Fukushima comes to mind.

        • Donald Carey

          The disaster at Fukushima was caused by a tidal wave and has little to do with Japan’s ability to safely operate reactors.

          • CVN68-Tomcat

            With all due respect, those plants lacked more recent safety system modernizations that U.S. and other nations have applied to their Nuc Plants.
            Agreed they endured an extreme event, but the state of the art engineers in robustness so that a catastrophe doesn’t occur. Much info about that.

          • Donald Carey

            That still doesn’t mean that, if trained, the Japanese could not operate a U.S. built nuclear powered ship.

          • Old Coasty

            Those were 1st generation GE reactors. They were up to current safety requirements. They would have survived if the diesel generators with fuel reserves along with the back up batteries had been placed in the upper structures as had been planned but delayed due to financing and cost.

            The US is way behind in installing the required and nice to add safety equipment and structural changes. All due to the same reasons that Japans companies faced money.

        • muzzleloader

          I really wonder what the Brits were thinking in designing the QE class. The ship is the size of a Kitty Hawk class CV and they outfit her with no catobar?
          They could have handled practically an entire American air wing, but they have built another Invincible, only larger.
          As for the Japanese, thier Hyuga class ships would become CV’s if they ever purchase the F-35.(Which I bet they will eventually)

          • Old Coasty

            Japan ordered 42 F-35As December 2011. A squadron of US Marine Corps F-35Bs just deployed to Okinawa late last year and the US Air Force is scheduled to deploy there this year, so the Japanese Naval Arm can gain experience from them and maybe order the F35B for their Helicopter Destroyers, even though they said that they were not going to in accordance with their justification for their 4 DDHs.

    • El_Sid

      Why not lend/lease (or even sell) the NIMITZ/EISENHOWER to Japan. It
      will probably take a few hundred million dollars to bring them up to

      Consider that a mid-life RCOH costs $2-3bn, and you’re talking about doing something similar on a ship that’s another 25 years older. Then consider that $2-3bn could have bought something like a brand new Queen Elizabeth which would prove far easier to man.

      That’s the real killer with the Nimitzes – there’s very few navies that could generate a crew of 5000 including nuke specialists and the like. Certainly the RN couldn’t do it, and that’s a navy with an active fixed-wing carrier programme and long experience of naval reactors.

      Plus it just doesn’t really fit Japanese strategy – their concern is a defensive war protecting themselves from swarms of missiles and aircraft from across the SCS. They already have an unsinkable air base, you’d expect them to direct any spare cash into things like BMD and ASW.

      You can’t assume that just because Nimitzes are cool ships, that they fit into the strategy of any other country than the US.

    • tachyonzero

      Japan have already Helicopter destroyers fit for its strategy and mission.

  • RobM1981

    Admiral Dan Gallery once wrote that certain names can give ships an extra turn of the screw, or a slightly better turning radius. The name infuses the spirit of the ship and the crew, according to the great Admiral.

    In his case he was referring to his own ship, that also had a powerful name: Guadalcanal.

    I’m sure he’d agree that Enterprise is just as powerful. I can’t wait for her to launch.