The US Navy’s next advanced aircraft carrier is 70% complete — watch the latest 888-ton chuck drop into place

  • The USS John F. Kennedy is the second of the US Navy’s Gerald R. Ford-class advanced nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.
  • The Kennedy reached 70% completion late this month.
  • Construction on the Kennedy started in February 2011.

The USS John F. Kennedy, the second of the US Navy’s Gerald R. Ford-class advanced nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, has reached 70% completion, according to shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls.

Like the first-in-class Gerald R. Ford, the Kennedy is being constructed using a modular technique, in which smaller parts of the ship are welded to form larger chunks, called superlifts, that then come together.

The latest construction milestone came earlier this month when crews at Huntington Ingalls’ Newport News Shipbuilding shipyard dropped an 888-ton superlift — a 171-foot-long, 92-foot-wide section composed of berthing areas, electrical-equipment rooms, and workshops — into place between the carrier’s bow and midship.

The latest superlift, which took 18 months to construct, “represents one of the key build strategy changes for Kennedy: building superlifts that are larger and more complete before they are erected on the ship,” Mike Butler, the program director for the Kennedy, said in a Huntington Ingalls press release.

Construction on the Kennedy started in February 2011 with the “first cut of steel” ceremony at Newport News. The ship’s keel was laid in August 2015, and it hit the 50%-constructed mark in June when crews moved the 1,027-ton lower-stern section — containing rudders, tanks, steering-gear rooms, and electrical-power-distribution rooms — into place.

“We are pleased with how construction on the Kennedy is progressing, and we look forward to additional milestones as we inch closer to christening of the ship,” Butler said in the release. The Kennedy is set to launch in 2020.

Like the Ford, the Kennedy contains an array of advanced features, including the Electromagnetic Launch System and Advanced Arresting Gear, both of which assist with launching and landing aircraft. (The Ford, however, lacked one notable feature: urinals.)

The Ford was delivered to the Navy two years later than planned and cost about $12.9 billion, 23% more than estimated.

The Government Accountability Office said last summer that the $11.4 billion budget for the Kennedy was unreliable and didn’t address lessons from the building of the Ford, The Associated Press reported. The Pentagon partially agreed with those conclusions.

In August, Huntington Ingalls completed the “first cut of steel” ceremony for the third Ford-class carrier, the USS Enterprise.


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