The following is the Aug. 16, 2023, Congressional Research Service report, Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class Aircraft Carrier Program: Background and Issues for Congress
From the report
The aircraft carriers 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). The Navy’s proposed FY2024 budget requests $2,540.4 million (i.e., about $2.5 billion) in procurement funding for Ford-class ships, including $624.6 million for CVN-79, $1,115.3 million for CVN-80, and $800.5 million for CVN-81.
CVN-78 (Gerald R. Ford) was procured in FY2008. The ship’s procurement final cost was $13,316.5 million (i.e., about $13.3 billion) in then-year dollars. The ship was commissioned into service on July 22, 2017, and achieved initial operational capability in December 2021. The ship’s first deployment was delayed by a need to complete work on the ship’s weapons elevators and correct other technical problems aboard the ship. The first deployment—a two-month “service-retained deployment” in Atlantic waters that served as an operational stress test—reportedly began on October 4, 2022, more than five years after the ship was commissioned into service, and ended on November 26, 2022. The ship reportedly will make its first full-length deployment in 2023.
CVN-79 (John F. Kennedy) was procured in FY2013. The Navy’s proposed FY2024 budget estimates the ship’s procurement cost at $12,700.0 million (i.e., $12.7 billion) in then-year dollars. The ship is being built with an improved shipyard fabrication and assembly process that incorporates lessons learned from the construction of CVN-78. CVN-79 is scheduled for delivery to the Navy in July 2025.
CVN-80 (Enterprise) was procured in FY2018. The Navy’s proposed FY2024 budget estimates the ship’s procurement cost at $12,812.9 million (i.e., about $12.8 billion) in then-year dollars. The ship is scheduled for delivery to the Navy in March 2028.
CVN-81 (Doris Miller) is treated in this report as a ship that was procured in FY2019, consistent with congressional action on the Navy’s FY2019 budget. (The Navy’s FY2024 budget submission, like its FY2021-FY2023 submissions, shows CVN-81 as a ship that was procured in FY2020.) The Navy’s FY2024 budget submission estimates the ship’s procurement cost at $12,929.1 million (i.e., about $12.9 billion) in then-year dollars. The ship is scheduled for delivery to the Navy in February 2032.
CVN-80 and CVN-81 are being procured under a two-ship block buy contract that was authorized by Section 121(a)(2) of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (H.R. 5515/P.L. 115-232 of August 13, 2018). The use of the two-ship block buy contract reduced the combined estimated procurement cost of the two ships.
Oversight issues for Congress for the CVN-78 program include the following:
- the future aircraft carrier force level;
- 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;
- the delay in CVN-78’s first deployment;
- additional CVN-78 program issues that were raised in a January 2023 report from the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) and a June 2023 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on DOD weapon systems; and
- the procurement of aircraft carriers after CVN-81.
Download the document here.