At present, the most expensive ship ever built in history is the aircraft carrier CVN-78 USS Gerald R. Ford, with a hefty $13 billion bill that would make it the most advanced and most badass vessel in the US Navy Fleet. At least that was the plan when it was launched in 2013, but after almost three years in pre-commissioning testing, there are still some stubborn bugs to iron out. But at this point, the wait until active service has become very annoying.
According to a CNN report, the top weapons testing group from the Pentagon have recently ruled on Monday July 25 that the USS Ford is not yet fit for combat deployment, a delay that threatens to again postpone its latest commissioning date in September. The Department of Defense operational test and evaluation director Michael Gilmore, passed a memo dated June 28 to Navy arms buyers Frank.
Kendall and Sean Stackey, that the carrier has trouble with its facilities for both launching and recovering aircraft, not to mention moving shipboard ammunition, even the conduct of air traffic control and ship point defense.
Gilmore’s report noted that these four elements are vital in an aircraft carrier’s operation, and warned that if they are not satisfactorily resolved, the CVN-78 Ford will have a significantly limited combat ability, bad news for a ship that is supposed to be the first of a new line. The only way to fix the carrier’s deficiencies would be a thorough overhaul of the existing launch and recovery systems. But as Gilmore points out, the bad news is that such an extensive redesign would see the USS Ford being delayed once more in entering service; the original date of commission should have been in September 2014.
Naval commanders do not like that however, as the longer the Ford is not cleared to join the fleet, the longer the Navy’s other operational carriers must keep active on their deployments all over the world. And that means their sailors and crew members are subjected to more stress as the CVN-78’s problems are not giving them much of a break in duty.
Due to the new set of testing and redesigns planned, the Navy is now looking at a new delivery date of 2017 for the USS Ford.
After the USS Enterprise was retired in 2012, the US Navy now has 10 carriers still in active service. The Ford line is the first entirely new US carrier design in 40 years and has three planned ships – CVN-78 Ford itself, the USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79, TBC 2020) and USS Enterprise (CVN-80, TBC 2025) – at an estimated combined cost of $42 billion. At the latest, the USS Ford is 98% complete in construction (although it is seaworthy enough), and its test program is 88% done.
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