USS Gerald R. Ford Needs Parts from Carrier Kennedy for Repairs; Navy Says ‘Cannibalization’ Won’t Delay JFK Schedule

November 15, 2021 6:43 PM
Carriers USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) and John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) at Newport News Shipbuilding on Nov. 12, 2021. USNI News Photo

The Navy is taking parts from an aircraft carrier currently under construction and placing them on USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) so the lead ship is ready to deploy next year, USNI News has learned.

The parts are coming from the future USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79), the second ship in the Ford class of aircraft carriers that is currently under construction at Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va.

Capt. Clay Doss, the Navy’s acquisition spokesman, told USNI News the parts taken from Kennedy for Ford range from pumps to limit switches.

“Examples of parts include HMI screens for stores elevators as well as motor controllers, power supplies, small pumps, limit switches and valve actuators for various systems throughout the ship,” Doss said. “This is not unusual early in a program and will occur less often as supply support matures.”

Doss described the decision to take parts from Kennedy for Ford as a “project management tool” the service uses across programs.

“It occurred only after confirming the parts or materials were not available in the supply system and/or that alternate sources were not available,” Doss told USNI News. “A replacement plan was also required in each case. None of the parts transferred to CVN 78 are projected to impact the CVN 79 construction schedule.”

In a separate statement, Naval Sea Systems Command said the procedures were in line with Navy maintenance rules.

“In accordance with the Navy’s Joint Fleet Maintenance Manual, cannibalizations are being used as part of the process to augment readiness of CVN 78, and are only initiated after non-availability of materials has been established in the supply system or verification that alternate sources are not available,” Naval Sea Systems Command spokesman Alan Baribeau told USNI News in a statement.

Ford, the lead ship that has faced multiple delays and struggled with the reliability of several new technologies aboard, is set to deploy in 2022, USNI News recently reported.

A spokesperson for HII said the shipbuilder and the Navy are creating a supply network for the carrier class so the ships have access to spare parts.

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) on Nov. 12, 2021. USNI News Photo

“A common shipbuilding practice for the first ship in class is to share parts between ships in order to maximize readiness until a class-wide supply system is established,” Duane Bourne told USNI News. “A relatively small volume of materials from the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) has been used on first-of-class U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) without impacting schedules. We are working with our Navy customer to build a supply system to include spare parts for the Ford class.”

The ship is currently in port for a six-month maintenance phase known as a Planned Incremental Availability after wrapping up shock trials over the summer.

“Everything is on track. We’re still looking to get out as scheduled after the six-month availability. No big show-stoppers that they’ve come across at all. So very, very positive news coming from the captain and from the shipyard. And then as we come out of that, I think we’re going to be set very well to get back in that operational mindset and get ready for the deployment,” Rear Adm. Gregory Huffman, the commander of Carrier Strike Group 12 who will lead the Ford CSG on its first deployment, told USNI News in an interview last month.

While the Navy previously planned to take delivery of Kennedy in two different phases as a cost-saving measure, last year the service shifted to a single-phase delivery approach. Under the new plan, the Navy will accept Kennedy with all of the modifications necessary to accommodate the F-35C Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter. The shift came after lawmakers included a provision in the Fiscal Year 2020 defense policy bill requiring that Kennedy be able to deploy with F-35Cs prior to finishing its post-shakedown availability phase.

“Under a single-phase delivery, Kennedy is scheduled to be [delivered] in 2024 with its complete warfare systems and with the Joint Strike Fighter (F-35C) capability that is required by the NDAA,” Bourne told USNI News.

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne is a reporter for USNI News. She previously covered the Navy for Inside Defense and reported on politics for The Hill.
Follow @MalShelbourne

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