Home » Budget Industry » NAVSEA: Carrier Gerald R. Ford Set to Start Sea Trials this Week

NAVSEA: Carrier Gerald R. Ford Set to Start Sea Trials this Week

Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), marking the beginning of a June day of Fast Cruise. Ford is conducting a three-day Fast Cruise to familiarize the crew with the ship’s systems for an extended period of time on June 8, 2016. US Navy Photo

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The overdue first Ford-class aircraft carrier is set to go underway on its first set of sea trials this week, said the commander of Naval Sea Systems Command on Monday.

Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) is set to leave the Huntington Ingalls Industries shipyard in Newport News, Va. for its first set of builder’s trials following an extensive set of pier-side testing to prove the carrier’s systems.

NAVSEA’s Vice Adm. Tom Moore said told an audience at the Navy League Sea Air Space 2017 he expected the ship to head to sea sometime this week.

The carrier was scheduled to leave on Tuesday, but weather will keep the ship pier-side, USNI News understands.

Prior to leading NAVSEA, Moore was the program manager for the Ford-class program.

The crew of Ford has recently completed extensive pier-side tests that have the sailors onboard operate the carrier as if it were at sea – known as, “fast cruise.”

“She’s been through fast cruise which is essentially a dry run for going to sea,” said Capt. Doug Oglesby CVN79/80 Program Manager said during a briefing in the conference.
“That’s one of the last steps before going to trials.”

The builder’s trials, which will be conducted by HII, will not have the ship launch or recover aircraft but demonstrate the most basic functionality of the ship, Ye-Ling Wang, program manager for future aircraft carriers at the Program Executive Office for Aircraft Carriers (PMS 378), told USNI News in February.

Tug boats maneuver Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), into the James River during the ship’s Turn Ship evolution on June 11, 2016. US Navy photo.

Following those trials, the Navy will hold its own series of acceptance trials before the carrier delivers to the service.

The $12.9 billion, 100,000-ton carrier is the first for the class of the service and is slated to commission into the service sometime later this year, after several delays in schedule.

Service leaders have said the complexities of integrating several new technologies into the carrier were to blame for holdups.

“It’s the first new designed aircraft carrier in 40 years. [There are a] significant number of new, advanced systems that don’t exist anywhere else in the world,” Sean Stackley — then Navy assistant secretary for research, development and acquisition — told reporters in January.
“It’s not until you bring them all together on the aircraft carrier that you get to test the fully integrated system, and so with all first-of-class ships we have been in a bit of a test-and-fix mode as we go through the test program.”

  • Change60

    $13 billion is ridiculous, even for first of class. Costs like that are why the Navy keeps shrinking. Its destructive and seemingly completely out of control without any consequences for people’s careers.

    • RTColorado

      for what we contribute to NATO, we could buy two Gerald Fords…and all the beer !

    • USNVO

      Even at $13billion to buy, the lifecycle cost of the FORD is $5billion less than a Nimitz class and it generates 20pct more deployed days. Yeah, we should fire the people who came up with that one.

  • Ed L

    For that when are they going to be able to fly? Or am I been watching to much Agents of Shield.

  • RTColorado

    How about they paint that bad boy something other than Haze Gray ? You know…pink or white or something festive. In the age of satellites, radar and GPS guided weapons it’s not like you can hide it…it’s kind of big…it stands out.

    • Rocco

      You smoking that funny stuff over there?? Or is the air too thin!!

      • RTColorado

        Yes, the air is “thinner” here at altitude and no, I don’t smoke weed (I may be the only guy in Colorado who doesn’t). I’m sure the Navy will paint that 1,100 feet long, 250 feet high, 100,000 tons of absolutely unmissable, unmistakeable, gigantic chunk of steel Haze Gray so it will be unidentifiable and unseen from ten miles away. That should work, in fact I’m sure of it. The real shame is that it won’t be measure 22, which would confuse enemy submarines as to distance, shape and speed…a real shame.

        • Rocco

          It’s not 250′ high!!!

          • Ken N

            about 250 from keel to top of mast. About 220 waterline to mast.

          • Rocco

            OK but normally the top of the mast is not measured . We normally say waterline to flight deck 75′. Flight deck to prifly 50′ depending on the carrier.

          • RTColorado

            You thought it was how high ? The USS Ford sticks up from water as much as a 13 story building, at 1,106 long….that’s a full city block. So picture in your mind a full city block of metal buildings 13 stories high…that’s the electro-magnetic/radar picture of the US Ford. Now as for that satelitte skying around looking down, it’ll see that flight deck from way up there…so you think the paint colour makes a big difference still ?

          • Rocco

            Relax dude I know how long the ship is OK!! I never said anything about how high the bridge & mast are!! You said 250!!

          • RTColorado

            Whoa Dude, I’m like totally relaxed…the ship is 250′ high, no matter how you slice it. You can quibble about from the waterline…or…any point you want to pick…but I guarentee you that you’d really appreciate just how high it is if you had to paint it…it’s really, really tall, it’s really, really wide and it’s really, really long…dude ! The point being, in the day and age of thermal imaging, radar, GPS and satellites it doesn’t matter what color(s) you paint something that big, it sticks out. The fact it’s made out of metal doesn’t help hide it one bit, and it makes a wake that can be seen from 10,000 up in the air…Whoa, far out !

  • John B. Morgen

    For the amount of time, and funding that was spent for one nuclear powered aircraft carrier. We could have built three Nimitz class aircraft carriers, and could have deployed three CVNs. Whomever is responsible for the G. Ford CVN-78 program must have gone completely MAD or insane.

    • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

      To offer some perspective….

      – The cost of CVN-79 (JFK) will cost $11.4bn…. according to an article on this site.
      – The cost of a Nimitz class was $8.5bn in 2012 dollars…. according to the navy…. probably $9bn now.
      – The cost of an Enterprise class was $3.9bn in 2015 dollars.

      I don’t know enough about the Ford class to justify the increase, but my understanding is that there is a lot of very new first-of-its-type technology included, ergo, costly.

      Given the life cycle cost reductions of the Ford vs the Nimitz I doubt building more Nimitz class vessels would save much if anything.

      Pushing the technological envelope is going to cost…… but it is probably preferable to lead the world in that regard than follow.

      • John B. Morgen

        Any new technology will always costs more than the previous class warships. The defense contractors have to make a profit.

    • El_Sid

      CVN-77 (laid down 2003) cost $6.2bn, a 38% increase over CVN-75 laid down 10 years earlier. Use a similar rate of inflation and you’d expect a Nimitz-class CVN-79 laid down in 2015 to cost $9.1bn.

      So a target of $11.4bn for CVN-79 is hardly going to buy you three Nimitzes in 2015. We’ll see whether the Fords manage their target of 33% greater sortie rate (it’s not looking great to be honest) but the real kicker is saving $4bn over the lifetime on lower manning costs. Investing $2bn up front to save $4bn of operating costs seems a reasonable deal, any improvements in sortie generation would be a bonus.

      • USNVO

        Even better is the reduction of major, multi-year overhauls. Beyond the billions of dollar in savings, the estimate is that 10 FORDs can make as many deployments as 12 NIMITZs over their lifetime due to fewer major overhauls. The sortie generation rate is driven by more factors beyond the carriers ability to generate sorties, like mission duration, so that probably won’t ever be all that important. But, the savings in personnel, reduced maintenance costs, and more deployments keep giving and giving.

      • John B. Morgen

        Has anyone said anything about the Navy’s projection of the Ford class lifetime. Is it greater than the Nimitz class lifetime?

        • El_Sid

          Same, but nuclear cores last longer, which contributes to fewer major overhauls.

  • Ron8200

    We have been landing aircraft on ships for 90 years yet the advanced landing system is not robust enough for the carrier. The F35C tail hooks scramble the pilots heads. 2.5 years behind schedule and $12 billion dollars hopefully it’s the best ship ever built it is the most expensive.

  • turkey

    How in the world can the PEO Carriers be promoted to COMNAVSEA after such an abortion? Where is the accountability? Smells like the PM for the A-12 getting promoted to RADM even after his corruption with GD was revealed. Some things never change.