Home » Budget Industry » Carrier USS Gerald R. Ford Enters Year-Long Post-Shakedown Maintenance and Upgrade Period


Carrier USS Gerald R. Ford Enters Year-Long Post-Shakedown Maintenance and Upgrade Period

Sailors assigned to the deck department of the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) off-load Mark 8 life rafts from the ship’s flight deck on July 8, 2018. US Navy Photo

After spending 81 days at sea spread out during eight steaming events, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) is back at Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding for a year-long maintenance and upgrade period.

For the next year, Ford’s post-shakedown availability (PSA)/selected restricted availability (SRA) will concentrate on installing the aircraft carrier’s remaining combat systems, completing any deferred work and correcting a propulsion manufacturing defect discovered in January.

Discovering the propulsion train component defect delayed the PSA start from April to now, Bill Couch, a NAVSEA spokesman told USNI News on Monday. Originally intended to last about eight months, the PSA was extended to 12 months to also accommodate deferred work such as constructing an advanced weapons elevator and upgrading the advanced arresting gear.

“One year ago this month we commissioned USS Gerald R. Ford, the world’s most technologically advanced aircraft carrier. Since that historic day, Ford has performed exceptionally due to a combination of innovative engineers, skilled craftsmen and professional and dedicated sailors,” Rear Adm. Roy Kelley, commander of Naval Air Force Atlantic, said in a statement. “Since commissioning, her accomplishments are many. As she enters a necessary maintenance period, I’m excited to see what the future holds for CVN-78 when she returns to sea. No nation on earth can match the capability of USS Gerald R. Ford, a class of ship which will lead our Navy well into the 21st century.”

Since commissioning on July 22, 2017, Ford has successfully completed nearly 750 shipboard aircraft launches and recoveries, nearly double the approximately 400 launches and recoveries originally planned, according to the Navy. Ford also certified its air traffic control center, its JP-5 fuel system, demonstrated daytime and nighttime replenishment capability and the ship’s defensive systems. Ford was delivered to the Navy in June 2017, a year-and-a-half later than planned.

The $13 billion Ford uses five new technologies designed specifically for the new aircraft carrier class. A new radar, an advanced arresting gear, electromagnetic aircraft launchers and a new reactor design are among technological advances. The Ford-class propulsion system generates three times the electricity as previous carriers, according to the Navy.

Following the PSA/SRA, Ford is scheduled for another round of trials and testing, including full-ship shock trials. As of now, Ford is expected to be ready for deployment in 2022, Couch said.

“Congratulations to everyone who has helped bring CVN-78 to this historic milestone,” Rear Adm. Brian Antonio, program executive officer for aircraft carriers, said in a statement. “Following Gerald R. Ford’s delivery to the Navy on May 31, 2017, the ship’s crew has been diligently and successfully conducting post-delivery testing and trial operations that identify construction and design issues. They have been extremely effective in identifying any issues early, which helps us address them prior to returning to the fleet.”

  • Ed L

    Fabulous. Go baby go

  • proudrino

    Ironic that it is taking much longer to deliver a fully operational USS Gerald R Ford to the Fleet than its namesake was actually in office.

    • Matthew Schilling

      If a new Nimitz had been laid down when the Ford was, then CVN-78 would’ve first deployed last year – and it would’ve cost half as much.

  • Bubblehead

    The Ford has a major major design flaw that could prove fatal for its crew and its ship. The EMAL launch system does not have any isolation points. You cannot take down one launcher without taking them all down. Whether one is broken or requires periodic maintenance, the entire system must be taken down. The only fix is to completely redesign the system from the ground up. Im not sure if the follow on carriers will be built with this flaw, have not seen anything saying otherwise. Completely boneheaded design that anybody should have seen from the get go was unacceptable.

    • Duane

      Provide a credible source for your EMALS design flaw charge. I have seen that charge repeated endlessly on the internet but I have seen nobody yet produce a credible source (i.e., the US Navy).

      • Graeme Rymill

        Posts with links in them don’t ever seem to get published on this site. The best I can do is this:

        “The reliability concerns are exacerbated by the fact that the crew cannot readily electrically isolate EMALS components during flight operations due to the shared nature of the Energy Storage Groups and Power Conversion Subsystem inverters onboard CVN 78. The process for electrically isolating equipment is time-consuming; spinning down the
        EMALS motor/generators takes 1.5 hours by itself. The inability to readily electrically isolate equipment precludes EMALS maintenance during flight operations, reducing the
        system’s operational availability.” [From the DOT&E 2017 Annual Report “CVN 78 Gerald R. Ford-Class Nuclear Aircraft Carrier” ] The DOT&E is a direct report to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense.

        • Duane

          DOT&E is infamous for grossly overstating risks of new systems, often with a specific agenda of trying to kill the new system (former F-35 lead auditor Gilmore was infamously quoted as saying it was his “mission in life to kill the F-35” … now the F-35 is recognized as a huge success, and Gilmore had to wave bye bye a year and a half ago), and the Navy and other services routinely disagree with DOT&E’s findings. They are pencil necked green eye shade auditors, not warriors.

          So everything DOT&E says must be treated skeptically.

          • Ken N

            LMAO! Got a source for this infamous Gilmore quote? And AFAIK the Air Force never disputed any of the DOT&E findings regrading the F-35. In fact they are on record saying the DOT&E reports are “factually” correct.

          • Duane

            The services routinely disagree with DOT&E and say that their conclusions are overwrought if not completely bogus.

            They are auditors, not sailors or airmen.

          • Duane

            Gilmore discredited himself completely, repeatedly said that the F-35 was never going to work or perform to spec. Obviously Gilmore was completely wrong

          • Graeme Rymill

            What about Lieutenant Commander Stephen D. Hartman, USN? Do you treat his account skeptically too? It corroborates DOT&E’s account by outlining a design change that almost inevitably becomes a single point of failure.

          • Duane

            No, I don’t know his background or motives.

            But you seem willing to believe that everybody in the Ford development team, both Navy and contractors, got it all wrong, and that instead this one guy was right.

            That seems unlikely.

          • NavySubNuke

            What you don’t understand is that design teams don’t make decisions like this — design teams are forced to survive decisions like this.
            Somewhere along the way the Navy was presented with 1 or more options that showed the cost and space and power requirements of having the cat’s electrically isolated and redundant and not. For all we know there was a mid option of two and two or some other arrangement but who knows. At the end of the day someone made, in no way the team I can guarantee that, decided to go with 4 cats in one electrical loop.
            We don’t know why but having been involved in other programs it was almost certainly a cost issue ultimately.

          • Duane

            On major programs like the Ford Class design teams go through formal design reviews with designated reviewers from both within the team and external reviewers including end users and subject matter experts and from budgeting and contracts management reps. Early design reviews focus on key features as related to the design requirements, and if multiple options are available, will present a comparative analysis including pros and cons of each alternative design approach.

            I have participated in many dozens of design reviews as both a designer and a reviewer, including nuclear safety systems, civil/structural, I & C systems for Federal, state and local governments, and private and industrial owners. I have chaired and documented many such design reviews, along with extensive follow up and responses to review comments.

            If this aspect of EMALS was considered by the design review team and the lead designer as Graeme referenced, then there is a record of the alternatives considered, the rationale expressed by the reviewers and designers recorded for each design option considered, and all of that becomes part of the design record.

            That does not mean that the Navy cannot or will not reconsider such decisions if testing data or operational history suggests a change is necessary.

            These kinds of decisions are not slap dash affairs made by stupid or compromised people.

          • NavySubNuke

            “These kinds of decisions are not slap dash affairs made by stupid or compromised people.”
            Never said they were – but that doesn’t mean the right decision is made. It just means a decision is made based on the knowledge available at the time given the constraints the program was/is faced with at the time.
            If you really have actually participated in reviews like this you know what I am talking about. This EMALs decision sounds a lot like one of those. Just like the decision to cut 20% of the weapons battery from Columbia to save 2% of the cost.

          • Graeme Rymill

            It was a research paper in partial fulfillment of a Masters in Military Science at the US Marine Corps Command and Staff College. He merely reported the facts. He made no judgement on the likely impact of the design changes that were implemented to save 400 tons of weight.

            Did the Navy and contractors on the Ford Development team “get it all wrong”. I don’t believe so. In doesn’t seem beyond the bounds of probability, given these reports, that they might have got this one thing wrong.

        • Epictetus

          I’m not sure that I agree that the phrase “…cannot readily electrically isolate EMALS components…” is as dire as you say. The word “readily” is open for interpretation. While I don’t have EMALS experience, I have a tremendous amount of experience with 450v and 4160v distribution systems, and there are a lot of instances where mechanical disconnects must be operated to fully isolate a section of switchgear. That isn’t quick, but it is by design and, in the case of 4160v, necessary since a single breaker doesn’t necessarily assure adequate isolation due to the voltage. I believe EMALS is operated at a far higher voltage (i.e., >20kv) that mechanical disconnects may be the only feasible way to provide full electrical isolation. So, while it may be true that isolation can’t be done with a danger tag on a breaker, that may be intentional and consistent with solid engineering given the extreme voltages involved.

          • Duane

            Epic … thanks for you insight on electrical power systems management.

            The issue as it pertains to EMALS is that the very high cyclic demand of electric power at the design sustained rate of the Ford’s cat launches requires a very large energy storage mechanism that cyclically discharges and then is recharged with the ship’s generator. The designer uses four large powered flywheel motor/generator sets to store and release the energy.

            If the complaints about the design are factually correct – which the US Navy has not confirmed or denied – then it sounds like the four flywheel MG sets must be cross-connected to provide the necessary peak power. If one cat must be taken out of service then all four flywheel MG sets must be taken down to zero rpm, supposedly, long enough to isolate the one cat while the other cats are powered up again. THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT ALL FOUR CATS MUST BE DEENERGIZED AS LONG AS ONE CAT IS DOWN, which is the inferred criticism.

            If all of that is true, and if the Navy believes that is not a significant risk to operations, then end of story. It is not a flaw.

            If the Navy believes this is a significant operating risk for the Ford class, it will change the design.

            Of course the self proclaimed design and carrier ops geniuses, those who comment here and elsewhere on the web, and who are certified to be far smarter than all the crazy dolts (according to these geniuses) who serve in the Navy today, believe that the Ford is and always was destined to be an abject massive failure.

            I’ll wait for the facts, and will never presume that internet wags are smarter than our Navy folks are.

          • Graeme Rymill

            I didn’t say it was dire. I simply reported the wording of the report as requested by Duane and Mk-Ultra. I am not a USS Ford hater. I suspect the Navy will sort these problems out sooner or later.

            I understand zero about electrical engineering so I am not sure if these additional comments I now quote add anything:-

            “The primary means of physically disconnecting major subsystems and the
            launchers are the Cable Disconnect Units (CDUs). There is no circuit breaker or switch to secure power to the CDU; CDUs can only be disconnected by first securing all feeding power, dissipating all stored energy including spinning
            down the motor/generators, discharging capacitors, and then unbolting and removing the bus disconnect links. This provision would prevent certain maintenance and repair of launcher components while power is present in other
            components and while other launchers are conducting flight operations.”

          • Epictetus

            Graeme, I certainly did not intend to put words in your mouth IRT “dire” – I guess I assumed a tone based on the many other posts above and below. Thanks for including the remainder of the quote – that’s pretty much exactly what I expected in the design. In reality, I doubt this is a major issue as any casualty outside of battle always takes a large amount of time simply due to admin – e.g., writing, reviewing, hanging danger tags; briefs, etc. The system shutdown would occur in parallel with preparations, effectively negating the impact of delays system configuration. In battle, I expect it could and would be done far, far faster if restoring catapults was on the line. It’s virtually impossible to design a real system without single points of failure. Even the propulsion plant has them…*gasp*

      • Graeme Rymill

        As to why this situation has arisen you need to consult a 2010 paper by Lieutenant Commander Stephen D. Hartman , United States Navy entitled “Electromagnetic Aircraft Launching System:Do the Benefits Outweigh the Costs?”:

        “The Navy charged General Atomics with building a system in which each of the four catapults on the carrier weighed 530 tons. Yet each launcher being produced was about 100 tons overweight, making the total system 400 tons overweight. The system, as built was going to take up too much space. The Navy corrected the problem by changing
        EMALS from having stand-alone electrical equipment for each catapult to systems that could be shared by all four catapults on the ship.”

        • sferrin

          And how many separate steam generating sources do standard catapult systems have?

          • NavySubNuke

            2.
            That isn’t the issue though – the issue at hand is when one cat is down for maintenance how many cats are still available?
            On a Nimitz — all the others
            On a Ford — none.

          • Duane

            That is simply not true.

            Even if the criticisms are factually correct and indeed relevant, which the Navy has neither confirmed or denied, the required shutdown of all four cats is just temporary, for about 1.5 hours. The criticism is that the four cats are not “READILY” ISOLATED, not that they are non-isolable.

          • NavySubNuke

            1.5 hours is the minimum time — the report specifically said that “The process for electrically isolating equipment is time-consuming; spinning down the EMALS motor/generators takes 1.5 hours by itself.
            That doesn’t include all the other things that need to happen or how long they will take. Nor does it say if the system can even operate when the maintenance is occurring.

          • Dave Perry

            That is generalizing the heck out of the situation. How many cats are down for maintenance on a NIM class is entirely dependent on where the fault is. It is by no means always ‘all the others’. Something tells me that if this wasn’t an unclassified forum someone could probably provide context to your assertion about EMALS.

          • NavySubNuke

            Perhaps – but everything published about it so far does not align with your view that there is some classified answer that makes it all better.

          • jack anderson

            no matter, i am sure the Chinese will give us a years timeout while the brand new ship goes into the yard.

          • NavySubNuke

            Not too worried about China in the next 12 months — it is the mid 2020s that really concerns me. Especially if their railgun and hyperson developments are real and aren’t just potemkin railguns and warheads.

          • jack anderson

            I remember a quote after the sinking of Force Z where a senior admiral said that while it takes but two years to build a ship, it takes centuries for The Royal Navy to build a tradition. That may have been true then, but it isn’t now.

          • James Mcdonough

            ONE IN THEORY STEAM IS SENT UP FROM BELOW .ENGINEERING SUPPLY THE STEAM AND STORED IN 2 BIG FLASK.

          • James Mcdonough

            AND THAT WAS THE USS MIDWAY ONE ACCUMULATOR FOR EACH CATAPULT..NEVER SERVED OR WORKED ON BIG NUKES SO IM SURE EACH CATAPULT HAS ITS OWN ACCUMULATOR TO STORE STEAM

        • Duane

          That does not say that the issue is life threatening to the Ford, nor does it say that it cannot be changed without having to redesign and rebuild the entire ship from the keel up, as charged above (obvious hyper ventilation in the comment above).

          If this configuration was a deliberate design decision in one of those typical compromises that are part of every ship design, then it is not a “flaw” but a design decision. A “flaw” is an unintended failure to meet design or performance requirements.

          If the Navy determines that the inability to “readily isolate” four separate cats is not or no longer acceptable, then the design requirements will change and so will the system. None of this is inherent to EMALS if the report you quoted is both accurate and relevent.

          All new ship classes with significant design changes are based upon a “first cut” design that usually involves subsequent changes either on the original first ship in class, or is addressed in subsequent hulls. Ditto with aircraft.

          The bottom line is that to date EMALS has performed very well in many hundreds of cats to date.

          • NavySubNuke

            Duane: “does it say that it cannot be changed without having to redesign and rebuild the entire ship from the keel up, as charged above”
            Actual comment by @terrycostakis:disqus: “The only fix is to completely redesign the system from the ground up”
            — Nice job lying about what he actually said. Or do you not understand the difference between a SYSTEM and a SHIP?
            ****
            Duane: “(obvious hyper ventilation in the comment above).”
            Actual Truth: No hyperventilation in the comment above at all — you are just a liar.
            ****
            Duane: “A “flaw” is an unintended failure to meet design or performance requirements”
            Dictionary: “Flaw – a mistake or shortcoming in a plan, theory, or legal document that causes it to fail or reduces its effectiveness”
            The inability to continue to use the remaining catapults after one has failed is a serious flaw in the effectiveness of the EMALs design.
            *****
            Nice try at appearing competent though – though I am sure you will flag this post since I pointed out that you are once again lying to try to make your case.
            Typical gutter trash troll behavior right there…. Like a 6 year old running home to mommy because the other kids wouldn’t let you cheat.

          • Graeme Rymill

            The bottom line is that we don’t know how EMALS has performed in those 750 launches. The Navy hasn’t given any indication (not that I blame them) of the number of failures and the average time the carrier was unavailable for any launches due to catapult repairs. It is after all a test period for USS Ford. However it must be noted that those 750 launches took place over a 12 month period. This in no way replicates a carrier operating at full capacity. In 1997 USS Nimitz generated 771 strike sorties in just 4 days. So EMALS and USS Ford still have a long road to tread.

          • Duane

            You are correct that WE do not have the performance data for the EMALS launches during the 8 testing cruises. But we DO know the Navy has those data, and the Navy’s public comments are very positive. If the Navy thought EMALS sucks as bad as some here in this comment thread, talking about fatal flaws and risk to the ship itself, then Navy leaders would do either 1 of 2 things: say nothing in public while leaning hard on the contractor to fix it … or the Navy would say that the system isn’t working to expectations. But no senior naval officer would vouch in public for a system he knows does not work.

            Does anyone here seriously believe the Navy wants to go all in for the next 75 years on a system the Navy knows does not work?

            That is not how our Navy works.

          • Graeme Rymill

            OK let me list the misrepresentations of my position in your reply:
            I never said EMALS sucks.
            I never talked about fatal flaws.
            I never said EMALS is a “system the Navy knows does not work”
            Your refusal to accept even the possibility that a design decision regarding EMALS electrical power could lead to maintenance and repair delays that would impact on carrier launch cycles speaks volumes to your closed mind.

      • NavySubNuke

        I like how you flagged the post where I provided you a credible source that proved it just so you could keep lying about never seeing a credible source.
        Your complete and utter lack of personal integrity really is impressive.

    • Mk-Ultra

      Do you have a link describing this supposed flaw, other than just you saying so?

      • NavySubNuke

        w w w .dote.osd.mil/pub/reports/FY2017/pdf/navy/2017cvn78.pdf
        Just take out the extra spaces. There are several other reports that discuss this as well.
        Quotes to note:
        “The Navy previously identified an inability to readily electrically isolate Electromagnetic Aircraft Launching System (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) components
        to perform maintenance. This limitation will preclude some types of EMALS and AAG maintenance during flight operations, decreasing their operational availability. ”
        “The reliability concerns are exacerbated by the fact that thecrew cannot readily electrically isolate EMALS components during flight operations due to the shared nature of the Energy Storage Groups and Power Conversion Subsystem inverters onboard CVN 78. The process for electrically isolating equipment is time-consuming; spinning down the EMALS motor/generators takes 1.5 hours by itself. The inability to readily electrically isolate equipment precludes EMALS maintenance during flight operations, reducing the system operational availability. “

        • Mk-Ultra

          Thank you. Very interesting. I wasn’t aware that was an issue. I don’t know enough about the system or electric engineering to comment much but I am interested in how the Navy will address that. Doesn’t seem like something the Navy will keep the way it is. Way too inconvenient for the ship, especially for such a core component for a Carrier

      • Duane

        There is a difference between a design flaw and a reasoned design decision.

        • Graeme Rymill

          What about a flawed design decision – where does that fit in your black and white world?

          • Duane

            There is never anything black and white in engineering design. Every engineering design of every thing that was ever built by man was a result of compromising various competing design considerations. More of this always requires more, or less of some other thing. What matters is that the final product either meets its required performance and functions well, or it does so less well.

            And the other things about design are that most designs get tweaked over time, and also, requirements tend to change over time.

          • Matthew Schilling

            So Six Sigma is about compromise? Got it, thanks!

    • NavySubNuke

      Unbelievable – I was blown away when I learned that.
      They probably saved 0.01% of the cost by eliminating that redundancy too….
      Just like when the Obama administration decided to save 2% of the cost of the COLUMBIA SSBN by shaving off 20% of the weapons battery.
      It is absolutely incredible the way short sighted foolishness can impact such important systems.

      • Duane

        USN uniformed leaders made all the key design decisions on Colombia and all other ship designs, based upon performance requirements and international nuclear arms treaty limitations. There are vastly fewer strategic nuclear weapons today than at the time the Ohio boats were spec’d out, so fewer missile tubes are required today to provide the same level of deterrence. The Navy certifies today, with Obama long gone, that the Colombia boats are up to the mission. If circumstances change, the Navy can at a later date add more tubes to a Columbia, just as they are adding more vertical launch tubes to the Virginia SSNs in Block V.

        • NavySubNuke

          “USN uniformed leaders made all the key design decisions on Colombia and all other ship designs”
          If you had any actual experience in a ship building program you would realize how incorrect that is.
          Sean Stackley set the cap on what COLUMBIA could cost and PEO Subs said “Aye Aye” and went and cut whatever they could to try to make it under that cap. That is why we ended up with 16 tubes that are 87″ instead of 20 tubes that were 97″ like the Navy actually wanted. Never mind all the other cuts….
          Nice try though.

          • Ken N

            Actually Duane is right on. Claiming Obama cut the tubes down to 16 to save 2% is laughable.

          • NavySubNuke

            Well laugh all the way to the bank because that is what the Navy did at the direction of the Obama administration. Was it obama personally? Of course not.
            Just an FYI I’ve been working on the Columbia program since it was SSBN(X) so I know what actually happened vs. what people imagined happened.

          • Duane

            So your work on Colombia was just political consulting? Figuring out who to blame politically vs. getting the job done right?

          • NavySubNuke

            Not even close.
            My job is in trying to help the Navy get COLUMBIA right on the requirements side – how big, how many tubes, how many should be buy, etc. Outside of the engine room that is — NR takes care of their end of the ship. The rest of us work on everything else.
            That is why I had a first hand view as we cut feature after feature to meet the cost cap set by Mabus & Stackley. I also had a first hand view of when we delayed the entire program by two years to move it into the next FYDP cycle even though it ate away all of the margin we had left in the schedule in case there were any issues or problems.

          • Duane

            You do realize that Sec Nav never determines funding … Congress is solely in charge of appropriations including program funding for individual ship development and construction. And that Congress gives little consideration to what even the President recommends, let alone SecNav. Finally, a very large contingent of Congress were skeptical of the entire Ohio Replacement Program and what was believed by many to be outrageous costs. SecNav has no power to override Congress, and to fail to reasonably minimize program costs might have resulted in its outright cancellation (which Air Force advocates wanted to see) or a much more severe curtailment of the SSBN leg of the nuclear triad.

            Lastly, Congress was controlled by the GOP for six of Obama’s 8 years in office. Blame the GOP Congress if you feel blame is necessary. Naval leaders in both administrations fully back Colombia as it is now designed. It is not a political issue.

          • NavySubNuke

            You do realize that DoD provides an initial budget to Congress via the president right? And then congress via HAC/HASC/SAC/SASC actually provides the authorization and appropriation of the budget dollars. You also realize that DoD gives each service a Top Line of how much they are allowed to spend as part of developing that budget and then the services prioritize what they are going to do with their own money right?
            (That is how services end up with an unfunded priority list every year by the way.)
            You can’t even begin to comprehend how much in-fighting happens at both the service and the DoD level to determine the “President’s” budget but if you had any actual knowledge you would realize what I am talking about. It is up to SECNAV and his staff to settle the inside the Navy wars and up to SECDEF and his staff to settle the inside the DoD budget wars.
            SECNAV and his civilian appointee staff have a lot more control over the budget than you give him credit for or are willing to believe.
            And we’ll never really know what congress would or would not have paid for in terms of COLUMBIA since we never had a chance to make it to them for a decision. The price of the ship was cut at the SECNAV level and so the capabilities had to be cut to match the price. End of story.

          • Duane

            Congress always ignores administration requests. Frankly the leaders in the armed services committees know far more about ship building than any President and most if not all SecNavs who are political appointees. These elected officials tend to spend decades focusing on this stuff, and tend to have highly knowledgeable staff, and they spend a lot of time in briefings with uniformed leaders and their subject matter experts. Plus Congress has independent researchers on staff in CRS and GAO.

          • NavySubNuke

            “Congress always ignores administration requests”
            Demonstrably false – as anyone who has ever actually reviewed budget documents will tell you the vast majority of the line items in DoD’s budget are passed without any modification.
            Sorry I didn’t read the rest of your response after this gross conceptual error.

          • Ken N

            I’m gonna have to eat some crow here. I did some of my own research and NavySubNuke is correct. Cutting the tubes on the Columbia class from 20 to 16 was, for the most part, a cost cutting measure. There was/is concern if 16 tubes would me US deterrent requirements. Interestingly 4 tubes on the Ohio class subs are being deactivated starting this year.

            Appendix D of the following report discusses the decision behind the number of tubes:

            “O’Rourke, Ronald (17 September 2017). “Navy Navy SSBN(X) Ballistic Missile Submarine Program: Background and Issues for Congress”

          • NavySubNuke

            Hey man, thanks — I appreciate it.
            The worst part is things have only gotten worse with the new low-yield warhead coming as part of the NPR. The loss of 20% of the weapons capacity for 2% savings is something I think we will long regret going forward. But making short sighted decisions like that was a hallmark of the Mabus era as SECNAV. Its going to take us at least a decade to recover from his mismanagement.

          • Duane

            You keep blaming Mabus for doing something he never had any control over whatsoever. Congress is entirely in charge of funding specific ship development and construction funding vis NDAAs and annual defense appropriations bills. Congress routinely ignores administration requests, even when one party controls everything as is the case now. Every single year these bills pass with strong bipartisan majorities, and Obama’s opposition party, the GOP, was in control of the House, where all appropriations bills must originate, for the last 6 years he was in office.

            If Congress wanted to revisit the issue of the number of tubes on the Colombias now – which it assuredly does not – it could order the design change now and add 4 more tubes. Which it ain’t doing. If you claim it”s too late for the Colombia which begins construction in about 2 years, then fine, Congress could order the design change for the second and subsequent hulls of the class. But it won’t. There are simply too many competing fleet needs for limited shipbuilding dollars for Congress to further increase the very expensive cost of Columbia.

            You don’t like the Colombia design decisions that were made, ok we get it. But these cost-affecting design decisions are never and can never be made by a SecNav – only Congress makes those decisions. And they are never made in a vacuum.

          • NavySubNuke

            “You keep blaming Mabus for doing something he never had any control over whatsoever”
            I realize you don’t understand the duties or responsibilities of the SECNAV and his staff when it comes to building the DoN budget submission every year and how that process is then used to create the over DoD and President’s budget that Congress then adjusts and approves but that is your problem not mine.
            You are correct that congress could have decreed that the Navy not cut those 4 tubes but at the end of the day they accepted the Navy’s budget. And that budget was based – in part – on the direction of Mabus and his staff.
            Congratulations though on actually stating something that is correct — it happens so rarely I want to make sure I commend you for it.

          • Duane

            Sure, it was cost cutting. Cutting the cost of the Columbia class was a necessity to preserve the program, in response to strong criticism from Congress that it was too expensive. Many in Congress wanted to kill the entire program … some because they opposed the entire strategic nuclear recapitalization, and some because they argued that it is much cheaper to base strategic nukes on land based missiles and bombers – which happens to be true.

            So there was never a realistic option for the Navy to refuse to reduce the costs of Colombia. It was down to cut it or kill it. Or else cut or kill some other Navy shipbuilding program, such as SSNs or DDGs.

            In any event, Navy leaders signed off on the final design of Colombia as sufficient to meet the strategic objectives, and they still certify to that today.

          • Rocco

            Who cares off topic!!

        • Rocco

          Off topic!!

      • allbuss84

        So the $10 trillion of debt Obama created, plus the $10 trillion he inherited, 60% of it was due within 5 years of him leaving office. Instead of issuing long term bonds at historically low interest rates, he issued short term debt, to keep current borrowing costs low, to make his “deficit reduction” efforts look better, at the expense of trillions of dollars worth of future interest. All of that debt is now being refinanced at higher rates.

    • PolicyWonk

      It is also notable that nothing in the article mentions any addressing of the EMALS reliability or redundancy issues. The USN itself stated the ship cannot be certified battle ready until these problems are fixed, something they said will not be fast, easy, or cheap.

    • Dan Stansbury

      Seems like EMAILS was put to a pretty rigorous test almost doubling the planned stress of the testing. Maybe the folks shaking her down wanted to see how EMAILS would do under 150% conditions. So I’ll ask this as a testing and startup kinda guy. How many failures did she have in the over 750 launches and recovery’s that delayed the double planned launches due to lack of redundancy or need fro maintenance?

    • James Mcdonough

      IM ALL FOR THE EMAL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH DURING AN ATTACK IS 3 MINUTES.BUT THEY NEED TO GET THIS THING WORKING RIGHT OR WERE BE BACK TO STEAM.

    • Rocco

      Agreed

  • Jack D Ripper

    And we actually won WW2 in a few years

    • Michael Hoskins, Privileged

      42 months.

    • Duane

      Yup … but at the cost of about 300 thousand war dead, millions of casualties, and about 74% of our war era GDP.

      We can certainly go big in war when we need to, but it’s not a rational measuring stick for relative peace time efforts and investments.

      What we know is that the sum total of all our investments in defense has so far prevented WW3, which if it ever gets started will be an order of magnitude more costly than the last one.

      • Matthew Schilling

        Nice try at deflecting from the appalling fact that 78 was laid down in 2009, yet won’t see its first deployment until 2022 at the earliest! Nimitz, on the other hand, was laid down in the summer of 1968 and first deployed 8 years later, in the summer of 1976. The last Nimitz class carrier deployed less than 8 years after being laid down.
        So, if we had started building another Nimitz class in 2009, while working out the kinks in all the new toys for the Ford class, that powerful new ship would’ve cost half what we’ve spent so far on Ford, and would’ve first deployed last year. I’m sure it would’ve come in real handy throughout the next four years, too.

  • thebard3

    Much is being made of the inability to electrically isolate the different EMALS units from one another. USNI apparently doesn’t like replies with embedded links, so see the document located at w w w .dote.osd.mil/pub/reports/FY2017/pdf/navy/2017cvn78.pdf . It contains nothing specific but clearly identifies this deficiency.

    • Duane

      DOT&E is not the Navy. The Navy has not characterized EMALS on Ford as “flawed” in any written report or public statement.

      • thebard3

        Okay, fair enough. But if true, it seems to be to be an obvious design deficiency regardless, if your are not able perform repair or maintenance on equipment because of it. Are you saying it’s okay that way or that it’s not true? Or maybe just that I don’t know what I’m talking about.

        • Duane

          It is only a “deficiency” if it was not a deliberate design decision.

          Think of it this way: if the design objective for a new vehicle is a max range of X miles, but some other person or persons thinks it should have been Y miles, and this is brought to the attention of the design team and design reviewers, including the end user … and various alternatives are proposed to achieve Y miles range, but would require compromising on other performance requirements, such that the design team and end user agree that it is best to stick with a range of X miles …

          then that is a “design decision” and is not a “flaw”

          If the design and review team and end user never thought to question the vehicle range, and consider that a range of Y miles is actually necessary to perform its role, AND that is discovered later that that is so and the vehicle is a failure, then that would be a “design flaw”.

          • Graeme Rymill

            So all “deliberate design decisions” are by definition (according to you) never flawed and never create any deficiencies. It must be wonderful to live in that bubble!

          • thebard3

            The nexus of both the EMALS and AAG systems is to increase the sortie rate on the flight deck. I think the AAG is likely to meet the sortie rate requirement but this particular quality of the EMALS requires flight operations to cease to repair any single breakdown. One catapult casualty reduces the launch capability significantly, I assume though not necessarily by 25% but now only 3 cats instead of 4. Whether ‘design deficiency’ or ‘flaw’, or whether NAVY or testing authority (DOT&E) ruling, this is a significant issue that is likely to prevent the system from ever meeting the original specification requirements.

  • Refguy

    “Ford has performed exceptionally due to a combination of
    innovative engineers, skilled craftsmen and professional and dedicated
    sailors”, but it will go back to the yard for a year before we can even think about a pre-deployment work up. By then, the plank owners will have left without ever deploying.

    • Duane

      All new ships go through post shakedown availabilities after commissioning, especially a first ship in a new class. The Ford is a very large and complex ship with a lot of new systems never used before. This one was scheduled for 8 months but has been lengthened to 12 months to relace a shaft thrust bearing that failed … reportedly due to a maching flaw by a subcontractor.

      • NavySubNuke

        Nope….
        Duane: “This one was scheduled for 8 months but has been lengthened to 12 months to relace a shaft thrust bearing that failed”
        From the article:
        “Discovering the propulsion train component defect delayed the PSA start from April to now”
        “Originally intended to last about eight months, the PSA was extended to 12 months to also accommodate deferred work such as constructing an advanced weapons elevator and upgrading the advanced arresting gear”

  • James Mcdonough

    HOW ABOUT SOLAR POWERED CATAPULTS.LOL ANYONE THINKING ABOUT THAT CONSIDERATION. THE TROUGH COVERS BEING SOLAR PANNELS .ENOUGH TO LAUNCH .

  • Jack___Hole

    Did they ever do the Shock Trials? – Never mind, it’s in the article – not yet.

  • DMH

    It was delivered 1 1/2 year late, another year shakedown cruise and another 1 1/2 year to fix the problems. So 4 years late and everyone is giving themselves high fives?

  • Mark Tercsak

    The next Aircraft Carriers should be named.
    1. U.S.S. UNITED STATES
    2. U.S.S. AMERICA
    3. U.S.S. MIDWAY
    4. U.S.S. ANDREW JACKSON

    • Curtis Reese 2969

      We don’t need no USS United States and America. President Obama will get a ship whether you like it or not.

  • newsacct

    I assume no one here is actually in the ship building service. The TRUE date for active service has been in 2020. It is a process. The ship gets launched, trials are run. The ship goes back for repairs and changes. It is repeated at least twice more to get it “right”. This is no surprise to the Navy or th ship builders. The launch system actually works better than expected which is why 750 aircraft were launched over the expected 400.
    Every luxury ship and carrier, etc. goes through this. The British new this when they had to dock for water leakage repairs on their newest ship. This ship is a process. Certain systems were not even installed yet because this was a test voyage for dimply some of the systems. A lot of the electronic defensive systems have yet to be installed by design. If the ship is not combat ready by the end of 2020, then you have something to complain about.

    This is not a political issue to be blamed on the GOP nor Obama. The Navy ordered it. it will be better than any ship previously built and it’d value/cost is amazing for what it will do, Some of you will troll anyway becasue that is what you do, It’s not the fault of the old white guys that run the legislatures or the the black guy who was president that people just love to hate. It is just part of the process of building ships that are floating cities that are also mobile military bases that extend our influence to the rest of the world.

    Please excuse my common sense. Now back to our regular programming of whining, complaining, and pointing fingers.

  • Maisha Grinn

    I remember when they built boats and they worked right out of the yard.

  • veej7485

    1st deployment in 2022? Construction started in 2008…does anyone see a problem with this?