Home » Budget Industry » Newly Commissioned Carrier Ford’s Leap-Ahead Technology Approach May Be a Thing of the Past


Newly Commissioned Carrier Ford’s Leap-Ahead Technology Approach May Be a Thing of the Past

Sailors man the rails of the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) during its commissioning ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. Ford is the lead ship of the Ford-class aircraft carriers, and the first new U.S. aircraft carrier designed in 40 years. US Navy photo.

ABOARD USS GERALD R. FORD – Saturday’s commissioning of aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) was a celebration of the end of a long and at-times hard road to bring the warship and its many new technologies to the fleet – a path the Navy may not choose to take again.

Ford was designed under President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, as the Pentagon sought transformational new technologies. The carrier, then, was packed with major cutting-edge technologies: a steam-free Electromagnetic Aircraft Launching System, an Advanced Arresting Gear, a powerful Dual-Band Radar, a new nuclear propulsion and power distribution system, and advanced weapons elevators. In all, the ship class has 23 distinct changes and upgrades from the Nimitz-class carriers.

“This is a herculean task, I don’t think people understand the monumental quantum leaps in technology, whether it’s the electromagnetic launch system, the advanced arresting gear, the new systems onboard,” House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee chairman Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) told USNI News before the commissioning ceremony.
“It’s really an amazing testament to the Navy, to the shipbuilders in being able to put that together, to test it, to get it to work. If you look at the progress in technology like EMALS originally that hiccupped a little bit and how it is today with it being onboard, it’s really a testament to the Navy and to the shipbuilders as to how they did that. We don’t always expect that new technology, but if we don’t push the envelope on what we can do then we never learn and we never get to deploy those technologies.”

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson addresses the crowd at the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) commissioning ceremony on July 22, 2017, at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. USNI News photo.

Despite the congressman’s praise for those involved in overcoming the technical challenges that have arisen over the past several years of construction and testing, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson told USNI News before the ceremony that the Navy may avoid massive capability leaps like Ford in the future, to cut down on risk, cost and schedule.

“When we look back, the Ford took on some major goals for ourselves, some real reach goals in terms of technology. And so as we look forward to designing and building ships of the future, particularly given how quickly technology is advancing, maybe we take smaller steps,” he said.
“Instead of something that will deliver in 15 or 20 years, we do something that will deliver in five years, and then we do five years after that, and we sort of take smaller steps to arrive at the technology and capability curve and deliver with more confidence and on budget, on schedule.”

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

Richardson made that same point a day earlier, while giving a speech to science and technology experts on July 21 in Washington. Speaking to industry about the MQ-25 unmanned aerial vehicle specifically, the CNO said, “show us the trade space here. what is the technological landscape, so we can find the knee in the curve, come up with the solution that has appropriate technical maturity, and put together a program that is about right on the risk curve, so that there’s not too much uncertainty, too many unknowns as we go forward. Now that will likely, that knee in the curve is not an exquisite solution that will last for the next 20 years, but that’s not the model. The model is, we’re going to do a lot better than what we’ve got right now, and we’re going to do that with a lot more certainty and confidence than we would if we’re trying to project forward decades. And then we’re going to build in a much faster iterative process – so this will be step one, and we’ll sort of design in modernization from the start. So I don’t have to worry about lasting 20 years, being that good. You tell me when it’s time to take the next step and we’ll iterate forward another step, so it’s almost this spiral development process, even for major programs.”

Richardson added in the Friday speech that upcoming ship classes like the frigate would follow this same model, leveraging mature technologies today and building in space, weight and power margins to add new technologies later on.

For Wittman, his focus was fielding these new technologies quickly – and in the case of Ford, that means getting the ship through its post-delivery tasks quickly and getting the ship to the operational fleet, without first putting the carrier through shock trials. The House Armed Services Committee debated this issue earlier this spring, with the committee ultimately expressing its desire to postpone shock trials until the second-in-class John F. Kennedy (CVN-79), which is what the Navy had hoped to do but the Pentagon under former Secretary Ash Carter would not allow.

“We’re having the Navy come in and brief us on the regime for shock trials, what they’ve done to, through modeling and simulation shock systems on the boat, to figure out how they would respond,” Wittman told USNI News about his work to convince the Pentagon to reverse its previous position.
“I think that is a very effective way to go about doing it. The key for us is, we don’t want to delay the Ford coming to the fleet, we believe that she will do fine in shock trials. If you look at other ships, the Navy doesn’t normally shock the first ship in the class, so I don’t think that there’s an issue waiting to shock the next ship knowing that we have already done the modeling and simulation shock trials for systems onboard. So I think the Navy has it right, but we want to hear from them, ask questions about how they’ve come to this decision.”

At the commissioning ceremony of aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78). From left to right: Defense Secretary James Mattis, ship sponsor Susan Ford Bales, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, acting Navy Secretary Sean Stackley, and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson. USNI News photo.

There is also a sense of urgency to field the ship quickly, as the Navy is legally obligated to maintain an 11-carrier fleet but has been working with 10 since the ex-USS Enterprise (CVN-65) decommissioned in December 2012.

“We take all the responsibilities we have – where we have to be and when we have to be there – and then we sort of take the Navy that we’ve got and divide it up. When you have fewer ships, fewer carrier strike groups, that means the ones you have are out there a little bit longer,” Richardson told USNI News.
“So the addition of the Gerald R. Ford and her intended carrier strike group and air wing, that’s another huge addition which will sort of alleviate the stress on the rest of the fleet.”

“I know as I strolled in the back and spoke to the sailors and their families, they are really really excited,” Wittman told USNI News.
“I spoke to one young sailor who said he’s ready to go to sea. They’ve got a busy schedule, they’re going to be at sea for 110 of the next 180 days, so really really busy times. But it’s great. What makes these ships great is not just the technology onboard, but we have the best sailors anywhere in the world. They know their jobs, they’re experts, they’re willing to serve this nation and make that sacrifice to spend those numbers of days at sea and make sure Ford does what she needs to do.”

Sailors aboard the ship told USNI News during a post-ceremony tour that the ship will be headed back to sea soon and hopefully start air operations within the next couple weeks, potentially as soon as next week. The ship has so far conducted helicopter operations on the flight deck but has not landed or launched any fixed-wing aircraft. The Advanced Arresting Gear is still in the final stages of installation, the sailors said, after a problem was discovered in 2015 and the solution finally developed and tested in fall 2016. Earlier this month the Navy and contractors worked to finish running cables and installing other components of AAG, so it could be finalized in time to begin flight deck operations during the shakedown period.

“This is a monumental day to now have the first of the Ford-class in the fleet, now undergoing her testing so we can get her deployed. A lot of attention about construction, about new technology being employed onboard. As we see, everything has worked out. It’s taken a little bit longer than what I think people expected, a few more dollars than what people expected, but I do believe the efficiencies we’ll see will show up on the John F. Kennedy and subsequent aircraft carriers. So today is a really important day. The amount of new technology on this ship is amazing – the sorties it can generate, the things it can do, especially in today’s environment when we’re concerned about anti-ship capabilities from other nations, this is a key. So this is a really important day, a really exciting day,” Wittman said.
“Especially as we hear almost on a daily basis about the anti-access/area-denial, the capacities of our adversaries, the anti-ship capabilities there, we have to do those things. So Ford’s capability gives us the opportunity to counter what our adversaries may bring to the line, and that to me is key. So today’s a really exciting day to see that come to realization.”

  • sferrin

    My god. How pathetic. “We pulled a page from the 60’s and actually pushed technology forward. We’re not going to do that anymore though. It was really, really hard and scary too.” That’s how you get left behind. You’d think they’d have learned that by now.

    • seijirou

      You missed the point. They didn’t push technology forward, they set out to implement a lot of technologies that were advanced at the time the boat was being designed. It took them so damn long to actually build it all and work out all the bugs of implementation that at launch the technologies are no longer cutting edge. The pace of technology has accelerated since the 60’s so the 60’s approach doesn’t work any longer. The future boats will be modular in design with over-built resource systems (power, space, etc.) so that next generation technology can be installed without requiring a redesign of the boat.

      • sferrin

        “They didn’t push technology forward, they set out to implement a lot of technologies that were advanced at the time the boat was being designed. It took them so damn long to actually build it all and work out all the bugs of implementation that at launch the technologies are no longer cutting edge.”

        EMALS and AAG aren’t cutting edge? What is then? USS Ford doesn’t have cutting edge sensors? What SHOULD it have then? Weapons? The same. And how would taking LESS risk have resulted in a better ship?

        “The pace of technology has accelerated since the 60’s so the 60’s approach doesn’t work any longer.”

        Clearly you’re not familiar with the 60’s. I suggest you take a look at things like SSBNs, Saturn V / Apollo, the SR-71, Project Pluto, etc. and compare their development times with today’s equivalents. (And they were doing things for the FIRST time.)

        • seijirou

          I am familiar, as is admiral Richardson. You are conflating the advancement of achievement with the advancement of technology. EMALS is a leading capability but the implementation began a decade ago. The technology behind the capability has advanced beyond what is implemented on the Ford. If the Navy did one thing at a time in serial instead of all things at once, and they began implementing EMALS 2 years ago the technology behind it would be superior. As it is now, they have a boat which has advanced achievement but none are implemented with cutting edge technology. All of it is old tech now.

          • sferrin

            Kicking the can down the road has never resulted in getting a capability sooner. This should go without saying, and has been proven time after time.

          • seijirou

            They would have all the capabilities in the same amount of time, but the last implemented capabilities would be implemented with more modern technology backing them. Starting to implement everything at the same time in parallel was a mistake, and the admiral is correct in identifying it as such.

          • FelixA9

            “They would have all the capabilities in the same amount of time, but the
            last implemented capabilities would be implemented with more modern
            technology backing them.”

            That’s not how the real world works. Ford would not have EMALs for example. That puts you behind right out of the gate.

          • El Kabong

            “Ford would not have EMALs for example.”

            Yeah, they’d have a system with no problems installed.

          • seijirou

            That may not be how the 60’s worked but that is very much how the real modern world works, which is exactly why the admiral is pivoting and has the humility and objectivity to take step back, see room for process improvement and admit it could have been done better. Like the innovation of object-oriented software development that took off in the 90’s, physically modular design and implementation is taking off in the beginning of this century because people can’t move any faster but technology is moving far more quickly. There’s no such thing as a single design built today that will run the course of 20 years. That is an old way of thinking and the modern military needs to be much more fluid.

          • Stephen

            It would be nice to have a re-vitalized Naval Architecture. Those backroom designers came up with cutting edge technologies that could be applied to existing ships. Ocean Engineering was & is an Avant-garde design bureau.

        • El Kabong

          Clearly, you’re not familiar with the mistakes of the past.

          In the aviation world, a good rule of thumb is to never design completely new engines AND airframes.

          How’d the Seawolfs and Zumwalts work out?

          Building a lot of them?

          • Stephen

            The Seawolf was the most capable SSN in the US fleet. 20 were proposed. The fall of the Soviet Union presented a question of need. Obviously, that threat was never going to present itself again, right? The Ohio Class was supposed to be 20-strong; that didn’t happen as a result of treaty. Demonstrated that we need 3 classes; SSN, SSGN & SSBN.

          • El Kabong

            Care to chat about those Russian subs? Or the Chinese and Iranian fleets?

            The “demonstration” was merely a way to keep those hulls in service.

            Clearly, you missed the Virginia Payload Modules.

          • draeger24

            the SEAWOLFs worked out very well, but they came at the wrong time in history….just as the “controversial – at the time” C-17 is an complete success…..learn context.

          • El Kabong

            LMAO!!

            SO well they only built how few of them?

            Learn facts.

            The C-17 was almost cancelled TWICE.

            How’d the T-3 or T-46 work out?

          • draeger24

            yes… the SEAWOLF is the best submarine in the world, but very pricey, and, it was shelved during a time for limited budgets, i.e. Clinton…we need more of them as they were built for the Chinese/Soviet threat…. The C-17 is wildly successful and is being bought by many countries….again, context. Have other programs failed…oh heck yeah….but that’s the nature of military procurement.

          • draeger24

            so was the F-35 almost cancelled multiple times – that’s acquisition.

      • Ships not boats except submarines…

        • @USS_Fallujah

          Or unless you’re an aviator.

      • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

        What is on the Ford that is no longer cutting edge?

        Are EMALs now so passé?

        • seijirou

          Like sferrin before you, don’t conflate the capability with the technology backing it. Once the implementation begins the backing technology is locked in. Attempting to implement many new capabilities in parallel means they are all delivered slowly. The backing technology is already outdated. A better EMALS can be built today. The Admiral is correct, they should have prioritized their wishes but implemented them one at a time instead of everything all at once. It will still take a decade to have everything, I’m not saying it will be faster, but the last capability will have only begun implementation 2 years ago so the tech won’t be a decade behind.

          • FelixA9

            “A better EMALS can be built today.”

            Well no kidding. And by the time the EMALS you started the clean sheet with today got to the fleet it would be 10 years old. In the mean time your way we have no carriers with EMALs and the way they actually did it has three. And it’s not like they don’t upgrade components along the way.

          • seijirou

            The current EMALS took a decade from the draft to the implementation because it was being deployed in parallel with other new systems. It would not take a decade if it was the next singular interative advancement. This is the point at hand that the admiral understands from the lessons learned of the Ford.

          • El Kabong

            “A better EMALS can be built today.”?

            How long would THAT take?

            What would be used in the meantime? Steam?

          • seijirou

            Less than it takes to implement EMALS as one of several simultaneous pioneer projects under a single umbrella. Identify all the components, prioritize, and implement in order. If EMALS was the 1st priority it would have been done ~ 8 years ago, and before that yes it would have been steam just as it was still steam 2 years ago when EMALS wasn’t realized yet.

          • El Kabong

            “Less than it takes to implement EMALS as one of several simultaneous pioneer projects under a single umbrella.”?

            Prove it.

            How long?

    • @USS_Fallujah

      Open architecture and incremental technology inserts are a far better recipe for success than going Whole Hog on every project. The sub fleet seems to have learned that lesson after the Seawolf fiasco and are leveraging it to the SSBN fleet next (we’ll see how that goes…), the Burke DDGs are another example of incremental advancement, though like the SSBN the Flight III is a new potential risk. “Transformational” programs like the JSF, LCS and Ford have the potential to advance the service, but also wreck naval shipbuilding for a generation.

      • sferrin

        “The sub fleet seems to have learned that lesson after the Seawolf fiasco and are leveraging it to the SSBN fleet next (we’ll see how that goes…), the Burke DDGs are another example of incremental advancement, though like the SSBN the Flight III is a new potential risk.”

        I almost don’t know where to begin. The only “lesson learned” by the USN resulted in the most advanced, capable, SSN class being cut to only three units (Seawolf or Zumwalt, take your pick). How sad is it that we are currently building less capable SSNs than we built over a decade ago? The Burke Flight III DDG is such an “advancement” that it will be completely out-classed before it even enters service. That you consider the Flight III and SSBN “risky” boggles the mind. There is NO progression without risk. Clearly Russia and China don’t share your phobia of risk and they are advancing by leaps and bounds, while we sit idle trying to figure out how to make gains with zero risk. This whole mentality needs to be eradicated.

        When it comes to the Ticonderoga, what they should have done was what they did with the Spruance / Ticonderoga. Continue the Zumwalt class, bringing cost down by increasing production efficiency and by buying in lot quantities, then transition over to a Zumwalt-based CG. When the Spruances were first introduced they were derided as “oversized and under-armed”. By the time the USN got around to sinking them (triple face-palm here) they were cutting edge DDGs, complete with VLS. But nope. Throw EVERYTHING we spent money on getting the Zumwalts ready to go into the shitter, blow the dust off a design already showing it’s age, start building it again and declare IT “risky” as well. F–king brilliant!

        • Sons of Liberty

          Back to the future. Essex, Kitty hawk, Forrestal, Enterprise Classes of carrier all had incremental changes to follow on ships of their classes.

          None of this kitchen skink of like to have future tech. Time for the MIC to go back to consistent in class upgrades.

          The Virginia Class has taken this approach and continues with each new boat to increase capablities and stealth silencing that they carry over to the next boat.

          • sferrin

            Essex to Forrestal was WAY more of a change than Nimitz to Ford.

          • El Kabong

            Prove it.

        • really is a shame that they have hamstrung the Zumwalts which offer so much promise, especially if armed with the CORRECT weapons to match what its capable of. Would love to see a much larger version become the new arsenal ship and outfitted properly for the mission.
          As for the seawolf, just another stupid decision. The lack of threat as always turned into a threat shortly thereafter. Luckily the VA class is not a step down much in these latest versions (maybe crush depths) but it took a decade of them to get back to that level. procurement policy is what drives the dang costs up more than anything, buy in bulk, them move on to the next class of ship.

          • Duane

            The Zumwalt will likely morph into a successor class that will retain many of the benefits of the Zumwalt design, while cutting back in costly design features that aren’t essential. The biggest advancement by far of the Zumwalt is its power plant – which is all-electrical, which enables the ship to both maneuver the ship and fire the next generation of directed energy and rail gun weapons. I think that is likely going to be a standard design feature for new classes of surface warships.

        • @USS_Fallujah

          They reached too far on the Seawolf and got their hands slapped by congress (whether that was wise isn’t really relevant to this discussion) and the progress of the Virginia class in being capable and affordable has been outstanding. Zumwalt is a victim of From the Sea, wherin the USN tried to keep its spot at the congressional trough by ignoring 200 years of naval history and try to be relevant in a transient stage in warfare. I wholly disagree on your opinion of the Burke DDGs, and of course no change is made without risk, my only point was that the great strides they’d make in staying affordable while growing capability might hit shoal water on the Flight III program (ditto the Columbia Class SSBN).

        • Duane

          The Seawolf was a fine developmental boat with large advancements over previous classes, but it’s main drawback was its high cost. The Virginia class represents a better compromise design that is affordable in the numbers needed today.

          This is somewhat akin to the German “Tiger” tanks of World War Two. They were undoubtedly the best-gunned, best armored tank in the entire war, but the problem for the Germans was that it was also by far the most expensive tank to build and to operate. Consequently only a very small number (1,347) of the powerful Tiger I tanks was built by Germany, while the Americans and Russians overwhelmed the German Tigers with vast numbers of lighter and less powerful, but still effective, Sherman tanks (over 49,000 built) and T-34s (over 84,000 built)

          • old guy

            You forget the “Tiger Tamer”, the M10 Tank destroyer, I drove for a while (not in combat). The 155MM HVAP round easily knocked out even a “Royal Tiger” over 2000 ids out of range of the 88 on the german.

          • Duane

            Even the lowly Sherman tank could kill a Tiger, but it usually required a lot of maneuvering to get to a position where the Sherman gun could penetrate the Tiger’s relatively thin armor at the rear. The advantage of the Sherman was its maneuverability, which was far better than that of the fat and very heavy Tiger … and its reliability. The Tigers frequently broke down in the field and could not be field-repaired … and the Tigers also suffered from short range … while the Shermans were based upon a simpler design that could often be field repaired, and its range was much longer. Effectively, many of the Tigers simply had to stand pat and wait for the enemy to come, in an ambush, because they could not maneuver and they could not travel far on a tank of fuel.

          • El Kabong

            “The Tigers frequently broke down in the field and could not be field-repaired…”?

            Where’d you read that? In G.I. Combat?

            “Effectively, many of the Tigers simply had to stand pat and wait for the enemy to come, in an ambush, because they could not maneuver and they could not travel far on a tank of fuel.”?

            Hilarious!

            Nothing to do with the long range and penetrating power of the 88mm gun, right?

          • old guy

            Tigers used the “Torsion bar” suspension. Invented by American naval architect.. Germans had alloy problems with it. Snapped on high impact. VW has same suspension.It was also used by the Russkies. M-4 had leaf or involute springs. Not as good, or as simple, but reliable. Later M-24 and M-26, and all since,used torsion bars.

          • El Kabong

            “Germans had alloy problems with it.”?

            Yeah, no…

          • El Kabong

            M10’s used a 76.2mm gun.

            It couldn’t knock out a KING Tiger in a frontal engagement.

            The 88mm L/71 COULD defeat allied armour.

            The M10 ‘tank destroyer’ concept was a dead end.

          • old guy

            Mine was a refitted 155 with HVAP round.. It could knock out anything. The concept was Tanks kill emplacements, TDs kill tanks. Problem was no turretting, not open top. same as Swedish tank. Army fell in love with 90mm, and then 125. 155 and 180 were abandoned. Reasons included space for ammo and, aforementioned turreting. Lotta bad info out there.

          • El Kabong

            No such thing as a 155mm tank round existed.

            World of Tanks is fantasy.

          • El Kabong

            Yeah, NO.

            The Panther was a better than than the Tiger I.
            The Tiger’s engine was under-powered.

            ” The Virginia class represents a better compromise design that is affordable in the numbers needed today.”?

            *snicker*

            Meanwhile the number of Kilo class subs being built is…..?

      • Duane

        The Seawolf class was no fiasco. It was a great learning and development exercise that resulted in the much larger class, and more affordable Virginia. That’s how it offen works when there is a large advance in a single small class.

        During the years between the world wars, the Navy went through 10 classes of submarines before they finally settled on the highly successful Gato class, which dominated our sub forces in the second world war. Some of those developmental classes had as few as one hull (the Argonaut), and the largest class before the Gato was the Tambor at just 12 hulls … while 77 of the Gato class were produced and epitomized the “fleet boat” of World War Two fame.

        The Navy had to work its way through the learning curve on weapons systems (i.e., development of the TDC), diesel engines (eventually settling on the Fairbanks Morse “rock crushers”), sensors (advanced telescopes integrated with the TDC, sonar, and eventually radar), and so forth before the final “Goldilocks” class that became the Gato.

        The Navy learned something from every one of those “failed” small classes of pre-World War Two submarines, and used that learning to good effect with the Gato class, and further refined with its successor the Balao class with its 128 hulls that finished out sub production in the second world war.

        • El Kabong

          LOL!

          “It was a great learning and development exercise…”?

          “Exercises” do NOT cost BILLIONS.

          It was a debacle.

          “During the years between the world wars, the Navy went through 10 classes of submarines…”?

          So what?

          Aircraft were developed so quickly, they were sometimes obsolete by the time they entered service.

          Look at the speed jet aircraft were developed.

        • @USS_Fallujah

          From a shipbuilding budget perspective it was, much of the current shortfall NavSea is trying to address is the result of the SSN budget getting swallowed building only 3 subs. Ditto the Zumwalt, which regardless of their eventual success for the fleet, curtailed LSC for 5 years.
          The last 688i was commissioned in 1996, the Seawolf in 97, Connecticut in 98 and then the next submarine to be commissioned was the Virginia in 2004 (Carter was commissioned in 05). That’s a 5 year gap between commissionings, or in a broader sense they went from 2/yr prior to ’97 to commissioning 13 subs in 15 years between 97 & 2013.

  • MLepay

    Risk=Reward. Just have to do it in a very calculating and thoughtful manner.

    • @USS_Fallujah

      This is the equivalent of a rookie gambler going all in on every hand.

      • sferrin

        BS. The Ford class is incremental in design. “All-in” would have been making the carrier stealthy as well.

        • El Kabong

          BS.

          There are too many untried systems on the Ford.

          • @USS_Fallujah

            Agreed, in order to get buy in from the Rummy’s OSD it had to be transformational, so they threw every great new idea they could into it and shockingly several of them haven’t worked out as well or on schedule and it’s thrown the whole program (as well as the shipbuilding budget) into turmoil.

          • El Kabong

            What I find amazing is after all the money, time and expensive testing, it STILL came out flawed.

          • sferrin

            Wrong. It’s basically a Nimitz with EMALS and AAG.

          • El Kabong

            Incorrect.

            What systems did it carry over from the Nimitz class?

        • Stephen

          Just imagine if the Air Force had built a flying carrier… They considered using nuclear engines & lighter-than-air lift. (Another 60s innovation.)

          • sferrin

            CL-1201 as I recall. (Though it wasn’t lighter than air. It was a VTOL.)

      • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

        It really really….. really isn’t.

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    Striving to be the best is what made the USA no 1 in the first place.

    Lose the desire to innovate and invent and watch the decline gather pace.

  • BlueSky47

    Aweswome thinking CNO-does that mean we’re finally sinking the ‘leap-ahead but at great expense and time’ LCS? Finally, a CNO with a clear head…or maybe not.

    • sferrin

      Difficult to tell if you’re being serious or sarcastic. One HAS to push the limits, it’s the only way to stay ahead. And you can be sure, the OTHER guy isn’t afraid to push the limits.

      • El Kabong

        You HAVE to shake. Your. Head.

        Look at the XB-70, YF-12, Sgt. York, Seawolf class, Zumwalt class….

        • sferrin

          Jesus, and here I was wasting time engaging with somebody I thought had a chance of a clue. Buh-bye.

          • El Kabong

            Don’t go away mad, just go away SCHOOLED.

  • DaSaint

    Can someone tell me why our CVNs don’t have Mk.41 or Mk48 VLS for ESSM instead of the old Mk29 launchers? Haven’t VL systems been proven time and time again to be superior to trainable launchers?

    • FelixA9

      I’ve heard that it’s because with VLS the missile flies straight up for a bit before tipping over and that could limit it’s use (due to aircraft being in the pattern). Don’t know how much I believe that that though. They could easily find room for an 8-cell short-cell (“Defense Length” or some such) on each quarter for a total of 128 ESSMs.

      • Doug

        I don’t think that an “aircraft being in the pattern” would be much of a concern if an ASCM was inbound at an aircraft carrier and your defense was an ESSM. However, the time for a VLS launched missile to find it’s close aboard target is too long. During the DTE phase of defense the launcher is already rotating in the direction of the inbound and when launched it has already acquired the ASCM. That time alone is worth having a rotatable launcher.

        • sferrin

          That makes sense. It certainly explains RAM.

        • USNVO

          I think the answer is a little simpler. A ESSM from a VLS launcher has roughly the same minimum range as from a MK29 and as the missile goes up no more than 150ft or so, there is virtually no more fly out time.

          On the other hand.

          1. On a CVN, the MK29 (and all other armament) is mounted on sponsons that don’t have depth for a VLS system, especially not a MK41 version. It could be built up of course using the area which contains the launcher, but then,

          2. You have to worry about blast damage to aircraft that are parked near the sponsons and personnel on the flight deck when the missiles are fired. Look at any picture of a CVN and you will see aircraft literally parked over the sponsons with MK29 launchers. Since a MK29 launches the ESSM with some super-elevation, it doesn’t have those issues, the blast is contained below the flight deck.

          Nothing that couldn’t be solved but the MK29 is good enough and It just isn’t worth the time and money to come up with something else.

    • Curtis Conway

      I could support Mk 41 VLS on the bird-farms, but I would never pull the Mk 29 launchers off of each corner of the platform. A supersonic Anti-Ship Cruise Missile traveling a few feet off of the water in a low sea state will be hard to detect until it is very close so reaction time is of the essence. It could be possible to get a shot out of the Mk 41 VLS cell for an intercept outside of five miles, but anything closer I would want to shoot it in the face. A standard Mk 41 VLS cell will handle a Standard Missile or four (4) Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM). Warhead size gets progressively smaller from SM-2/6, ESSM, SeaRAM. Defense in depth is the way to go, and with the USS Ford (CVN-78) and on, an excellent 3D radar will be installed to facilitate this detection, tracking and fire control function.

      • draeger24

        great points!

    • El Kabong

      CVN’s only need close-in defence and VLS would waste valuable seconds.

      • DaSaint

        DDGs and CGs need close in defense also, and have VLS. If VLS with the appropriate mix of SAMs (SM/ESSM) works for them, then I don’t see why not for a CVN. Trainable launchers are dependent on slewing in time. Any malfunction of the Mk29 launcher may render all 8 cells useless. Same would apply to RAM/SeaRAM, but at least has more cells available.

        • El Kabong

          ???

          They have CIWS, RAM, etc.

          They’re the outer defence layer for the carriers…

  • Ed L

    KIS

  • publius_maximus_III

    Well this ought to get you old swabbies’ blood a boiling.

    In additional to all those technological advances, there was at least one PC “advance” included — not a single urinal aboard our Missy Ford, according to the Navy Times. And a toilet with its stall takes about twice the space of a urinal. Maybe OK on a mall sized ship, but try packing that concept into a destroyer or a sub where space is a very valuable commodity (comode-ity?)

    So, the lead photo of this USNI article shows crewmen manning the rail — might be doing so for a different reason once she’s out of port. Advice from the sailing folks, always “pee to the lee.”

    • Stephen

      Just for reflection; the Ohio had a Crew’s head w/o a urinal, next to a Crew’s lounge & adjacent 9-person bunkroom. Officer country was arranged to accommodate women, as well. The strangest setup was in the Goat Locker. We had a Senior/Master Chief side & a Chief side. All those spaces easily partitioned for a gender-mixed crew. We had females in our pre-commissioning crew; lost the women at Commissioning.

      • publius_maximus_III

        I recall in college our frat house had three thunder mugs adjacent to each other. Whenever the ladies (fiancees, girlfriends) were invited to take over the house on one special weekend every year, we would erect temporary partitions between them. Maybe giving up the partitions would be a way to reduce space requirements, and a way for the sailorettes to “man up”?

        I remember Judy, a stand-up comedienne, commenting once about the awful smells coming from a men’s bathroom: “I think they like it.”

        p.s. And I thank you for your service to your country.

      • old guy

        I was SEA 003 at the time and finagled a spot on the maiden voyage as a “NAVSEA” observer. Great “BOAT”.

        • Stephen

          1st Sea Trial I was busy doing Calorimetrics; she was something else. Our crew was quite a collection of talent. NAVSEA 08 was the highlight for me. St Crispins still rings in my head.

  • vincedc

    “technology like EMALS originally that hiccupped a little bit and how it is today with it being onboard” I know you want to be positive during this kind of ceremony, but this is ridiculous.

  • Chesapeakeguy

    Well, I reckon we can all thank Heaven that FINALLY, after THREE major ship designs that were, and are, all planned to ‘push the technological envelope’, that the common sense lessons gleaned from such an approach will be applied going forward. The Zumwalt, the LCS, and the Ford are some mighty expensive and frustrating examples of that approach of ‘build it now but HOPE all the silver bullets WILL work in the future’. But I am personally heartened that the lessons have been learned indeed!

  • USNVO

    The problem with an incremental approach with the CVN is that it largely wasn’t possible, at least at a reasonable price, because everything is interconnected.

    Let’s say EMALS is your technology of choice.

    So, what new systems are absolutely required:
    New Electrical Generating System
    New Ship Service Electrical Distribution System
    All Electric Auxiliaries

    Which one’s need to be added because it makes sense
    New Reactors: If you are changing everything else, you better change your reactor at the same time or you are completely redesigning the engineering spaces, the single most expensive part, twice. It doesn’t make sense to do the reactor first because then you have to redesign your engineering systems three times!
    Island Relocation: Again, by significantly changing the weights and balance of the ship, you end up redesigning the ship configuration twice or even three times. And you only do it once on each ship so beyond the non-recurring expenses, there is a new learning curve.
    New Hull: this should be a no brainer. The fewer times you have to go through this the better.
    Radars: can’t relocate the island if you don’t change the radars, at least the X-band radar. The Volume search radar isn’t so important.
    Rearrange the flight deck and ordnance elevators: Why change it twice? If you are relocating the island, you might as well do everything else so you only do it once.

    So what does that leave you? Well, you could change the AAG pretty much with minimal other changes but that is pretty much it. Everything else comes with huge penalties.

    That is pretty much what the Navy determined back when they looked at the problem back in the early 2000s. Buying three transition CVNs cost significantly more, took much longer, and left you with two one-off ships. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet. especially when you are only buying one every 5 years or so.

    • draeger24

      my questions were pertaining to EMI shielding with all this electrical energy being produced.

  • El Kabong

    Built on existing core designs…

    Do some research, sonny boy.

    Answer the question, boy.

    “How’d the Seawolfs and Zumwalts work out?

    Building a lot of them?”

  • draeger24

    LOL…riiiight. Although the OHIO was kept in service for keeping those hulls “alive” as they still have service life, the SSGN and SPECWAR options it brings are very successful.

    • El Kabong

      That’s cute.

      Can ANY other sub be used for Special Forces tasks?

      • draeger24

        limited capability on 688’s.VA-class was designed for LOLI from the start as I helped to design it. Special Forces is/are Army if you care to be exacting. Please site your experience.

        • El Kabong

          English.

          Learn it.

          Otherwise, you have no credibility.

          “Please site your experience.”?

          LMAO!!!

          How about you CITE yours?

          Ladies first.
          Show us what ‘experience’ you’re faking.

  • El Kabong

    Clearly, you don’t.

  • draeger24

    Sonny….ramp back your rhetoric…last warning. The F-35 was on the chopping block twice in in the 90’s with only the USMC needing the VTOL replacement for the Harrier.

    • El Kabong

      Shoo boy.

  • El Kabong

    Ladies first………………………………..

    • draeger24

      already did….state yours.

      • El Kabong

        LMAO!

        All you spew is amateur blather and lies.

        Let’s see your Linked In and Facebook details, poser.

        Ladies first.

        Look into ESL classes, wanna-be.

        • draeger24

          we are still waiting…..state at least one unit you were in…just one…..I stated my last billet at NAVSEA PMS-399….waiting…..

  • El Kabong

    Wrong.

    Try learning some facts that aren’t YEARS out of date.

    Clearly YOU missed that.

    Seven left, you say?

    LMAO!!!

    Is the C-17 in production?

    Answer the questions, sonny.

    When was the last time you were even close to being in the military?
    When you walked by the recruit office?

    • draeger24

      “The Globemaster’s destination was a storage facility in San Antonio, where it will be delivered to the Qatar air force. Breaking down the numbers, Boeing said it has delivered 223 C-17s to to the U.S. Air Force and 48 to international customers Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, India and NATO.
      ‎Total delivered so far: 271. Four are still in storage and expected to be delivered to Qatar in 2016”

      • El Kabong

        LMAO!!!

        What year is it?

        Is the C-17 in production?

  • Duane

    All significant advances in warfighting systems occur in “great leaps ahead”. That is why they are “great leaps” and not “incremental improvements”. All great leaps are followed by incremental improvements thereafter, until the next great leap takes place.

    This has been going on for thousands of years.

    • honcho13

      Duane – I know exactly what you’re saying! What surprises me (and maybe it shouldn’t) is that the CNO doesn’t seem to know this! Nothing happens in a vacuum, and nothing worth waiting for happens today! Maybe Adm Richardson is trying to let everybody down slowly with all his rhetoric about “that the Navy may avoid massive capability leaps like Ford in the future, to cut down on risk, cost and schedule”. Or is he just trying to get the “air community” used to the idea that the next generation carrier is going to be launching UAV’s, which will not require ships the size of the Ford. Something, not specified in this article, is in the wind, and it don’t smell good for the Ford-class carriers! I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of Fords in isn’t cut significantly, just like they did to the Zumwalts! MMCS(SW), U.S. Navy (ret)

      • Duane

        I tend to agree with you, honcho, that the fully planned buildout of the Ford Class for the next 30 years is likely to be curtailed. UAVs don’t necessarily result in smaller carriers, heck some in use now are just as big in physical dimensions as manned strike fighters. But change in ship design is inevitable.

        We’re building carriers now that are supposedly going to dominate the fleet through the 2070s – 50 some years from now. Look back to 50 some years ago, and naval ships, and all manner of warfighting technology, were little like the new stuff we’re building and using today. Ships and aircraft still relied mostly on guns for offense back then, rather than anti-ship missiles and air-to-air missiles, respectively.

        Heck, just 25 years ago the internet as we know it, and therefore the entire concept of “networked forces” as we think of it today, had barely come into being, and few understood its game-changing arrival on the scene. The GPS system was just barely coming on line for the military, and was purposely degraded for civilian use. The idea of portable “smart” devices was only something seen in science fiction.

        • honcho13

          Thanks for the reply, shipmate! And, although you are right about the SIZE of UAV’s currently in the U.S. inventory, I don’t think you can extrapolate that out to carriers of the future. First with UAV’s: No pilots – No pilot staterooms! Secondly – that alone means: less need for officer wardrooms; briefing rooms; less food storage; less laundry facilities; etc – all those things that have to do with the human condition! Thirdly – this all has a trickle down effect: less need for O2/N2; less need for pilot-centric gear and those people to maintain it; less flight deck personnel to service UAV’s and launch them; less need for rescue helos; less need for planes to fly escort or CAP; etc. All these (and many more) changes to doing business aboard a “carrier-of-the-future” will have a significant effect on size, and, by extension, cost. And, then, the Naval aviator will be as extinct as the dodo bird! Sad, but true! MMCS(SW), U.S. Navy (ret)

    • El Kabong

      “All significant advances in warfighting systems occur in “great leaps ahead”. “???

      C-130’s…B-52’s…KC-135’s….M-16/M-4 rifles…C-47…M1911 pistol….AK-47/74…T-34/55/72…

      • Duane

        All successful major leap developments depended upon prior efforts that yielded results that led to the final refined system. The B-52 was the outgrowth of years of heavy bomber development, starting with the B-29, the B-47, and finally the B-52. The M-16 when it first came into service simply didn’t work well at all, the soldiers in Vietnam hated it .. the Army had to reengineer the M-16 to make it only marginally effective, and soldiers have complained about it for the last 60 years to the point where the Army has finally decided to abandon the M-16 family altogether (including the M-4) and go to a larger caliber round in a more robust form factor. The M-16 was effectively a 60 year failed experiment.

        With ships, major leaps have nearly always started with a single small class, perhaps as few as 1 hull, to demonstrate the technology and then incorporate the lessons learned in following classes of much more successful ships. I gave that story here in this thread of development of the “fleet class submarine”, which the Navy tried to implement in 10 separate classes of pre-world-War-Two classes, before they finally got it right with the Gato. The nuclear CVN began with a single-hull class, the Enterprise. It was not a failure by any means, but what the Navy learned with that ship they put to use in developing the highly successful Nimitz class.

        • El Kabong

          Yeah, NO…

          All were INCREMENTAL improvements leading to today.

          What was the Ticonderoga class built on?

          Pre-war is where you need to stretch to?

          AGAIN, a LOT of technology in the early 1900-30’s was developing FAST.

          Subs, aircraft, tanks…

          The Enterprise was a nuclear test-bed.

          What was the CVN that came after it? What came before it?

          The Nimitz was DEVELOPED using the lessons learned from the Enterprise.

          • old guy

            You and Duane seemed locked in a chicken and egg type argument. I was in charge of ship R&D in the late ’70s and we considered Nuclear Propulsion to be the singular, SHIP “LEAP AHEAD” since sail to steam. Our current leap? ahead is the Electric rail catapult we started in ’82.
            In weaponry, I would include Nuclear explosives, cruise missiles, Precision guidance, VLS and, of course Communications, of all types.

          • El Kabong

            Nah, I’m just yanking the troll’s chain.

            True, nuke propulsion was the biggest technology leap in generations.
            Prior to that, and since then, it’s been refinements and SOME new technology insertions.

            V/STOL was a big advancement. 😉

            You can’t say the Forrestals, Kitty Hawk, Connie, Enterprise, America and Kennedy didn’t have things in common.

            Yes, EMALS and the AAG are big advances, but they’re still just a catapult and arrestor gear.

            Cruise missiles are merely developments started with the V-1, and most everything else bar nukes, are developments of existing and prior technology.
            Big advances, but still building on past experience.

          • El Kabong

            Merely toying with the village idiot.

  • El Kabong

    Shoo troll.

  • El Kabong

    Says the liar…

  • El Kabong

    Pot, meet kettle.

  • El Kabong

    You first.

    Try something that doesn’t require crayons.

    Answer the questions.

  • UKExpat

    Why is it that the real reason that USS Gerald R Ford was subjected to such large time over runs and cost increases is never mentioned or debated? It seems very strange that the catastrophic errors that caused not only the Ford’s problems but also the massive delays and costs associated with other large US defence projects like: Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), Zumwalt Destroyers, Rail Guns, F35 Aircraft, etc. etc. Without doubt, it seems that the real culprit for all these and other similar catastrophes rests solely in the hands of the person’s responsible for introducing and administrating, what has now being called among other things “Concurrency Programing” into the initial construction contract programmes.

    The consequences of these programming issues has, without doubt, decimated defence procurement in the US over the last decade or so. What I find absolutely unbelievable is that some of the fundamental failures seems, even now, to have literately gone unseen or not understood. An example of such a hidden error would be the locking of time frames for the design, research and development work related to a new technology into an inappropriate short time slot. In other words somebody decided that somethings, often very important things, could be invented, designed and built in a specific time, which is clearly nonsense as inventions cannot be made to order. Programming is usually only accurate if you are setting times for well known work activities but not generally accurate for unknown new inventions. In other words a large number of contracts were let with extremely high risk contracts, yet nobody seems to care. Very strange!