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Report to Congress on Ford Class Carrier Program

The following is the Dec. 4, 2017 Congressional Research Service report, Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class Aircraft Carrier Program: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the Report:

CVN-78, CVN-79, CVN-80, and CVN-81 are the first four ships in the Navy’s new Gerald R.
Ford (CVN-78) class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (CVNs). CVN-78 was procured in FY2008. The Navy’s proposed FY2018 budget estimates the ship’s procurement cost at $12,907.0 million (i.e., about $12.9 billion) in then-year dollars.

The ship received advance procurement funding in FY2001-FY2007 and was fully funded in FY2008-FY2011 using congressionally authorized four-year incremental funding. To help cover cost growth on the ship, the ship received an additional $1,374.9 million in FY2014-FY2016 cost-to complete procurement funding.

The Navy’s proposed FY2018 budget requests $20 million in additional cost-to-complete procurement funding. The ship was delivered to the Navy on May 31, 2017, and was commissioned into service on July 22, 2017.

CVN-79 was procured in FY2013. The Navy’s proposed FY2018 budget estimates the ship’s
procurement cost at $11,377.4 million (i.e., about $11.4 billion) in then-year dollars. The ship received advance procurement funding in FY2007-FY2012, and the Navy plans to fully fund the ship in FY2013-FY2018 using congressionally authorized six-year incremental funding. The
Navy’s proposed FY2018 budget requests $2,561.1 million in procurement funding for the ship.
The ship is scheduled for delivery to the Navy in September 2024.

CVN-80 is scheduled to be procured in FY2018. The Navy’s proposed FY2018 budget estimates
the ship’s procurement cost at $12,997.6 million (i.e., about $13.0 billion) in then-year dollars.

The ship received AP funding in FY2016 and FY2017, and the Navy plans to fully fund the ship
in FY2018-FY2023 using congressionally authorized six-year incremental funding. The Navy’s
proposed FY2018 budget requests $1,880.7 million in procurement funding for the ship. The ship is scheduled for delivery to the Navy in September 2027.

CVN-81 is scheduled under the Navy’s FY2017 30-year shipbuilding plan to be procured in
FY2023. Under that schedule, the Navy would use AP funding for the ship in FY2021 and
FY2022, and then fully fund the ship in FY2023-FY2028 using congressionally authorized six year incremental funding. The Navy’s FY2018 budget submission programs the initial increment
of AP funding for the ship in FY2021.

Oversight issues for Congress for the CVN-78 program (and other carrier-related issues) for
FY2018 included the following:

  • whether to approve, reject, or modify the Navy’s FY2018 procurement requests
    for the CVN-78 program;
  • the impact of using a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the Department of
    Defense (DOD) for the first few months of FY2018 on the execution of FY2018
    funding for the CVN-78 program;
  • whether to provide advance procurement (AP) funding in FY2018 for the
    purchase of materials for CVN-81, so as to accelerate the procurement of the ship
    to a year earlier than FY2023 and/or initiate a combined purchase of materials for
    CVN-80 and CVN-81 or a block buy contract for the two ships;
  • cost growth in the CVN-78 program, Navy efforts to stem that growth, and Navy
    efforts to manage costs so as to stay within the program’s cost caps;
  • CVN-78 program issues that were raised in a December 2016 report from the
    Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) Director of Operational Test and Evaluation
    (DOT&E); and whether the Navy should shift at some point from procuring large-deck, nuclear powered carriers like the CVN-78 class to procuring smaller aircraft carriers.