Into the James River

Nine days after christening the U.S. Navy’s newest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding division launched USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) into the James River for the first time, on Monday, December 17, 2019.

Newport News Shipbuilding division successfully launched the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) into the James River on Monday, December 17, 2019, four weeks ahead of the original schedule (Photo by Ashley Cowan/HII)

With the aid of six tugboats, the USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) was guided down the river about a mile from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Dry Dock 12, where it has been under construction, to the shipyard’s Pier 3. There, the ship will undergo additional outfitting and begin its testing program three months ahead of its original schedule.

«This move is significant in that it represents a shift in focus from erecting the ship in dock to final completion and outfitting at the pier», said Mike Butler, program director for the USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79). «It is also a testament to the amazing teamwork I see every day between Newport News Shipbuilding and the Navy as we work together to build Kennedy with valuable first-of-class lessons from the Ford».

During this phase of construction, which is expected to take about two and a half years, habitability spaces, such as berthing and mess areas, will be completed, and distributive, mechanical and combat systems, such as catapults and radar arrays, will be tested.

The USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) is scheduled for delivery to the U.S. Navy in 2022.

Tugboats move the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Dock Dry 12 to Pier 3 on December 16, where the ship will undergo final completion and outfitting (Photo by Matt Hildreth/HII)


General Characteristics

Builder Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia
Propulsion 2 A1B* nuclear reactors, 4 shafts
Length 1,092 feet/333 m
Beam 134 feet/41 m
Flight Deck Width 256 feet/78 m
Flight Deck Square 217,796 feet2/20,234 m2
Displacement approximately 100,000 long tons full load
Speed 30+ knots/34.5+ mph/55.5+ km/h
Crew 4,539 (ship, air wing and staff)
Armament ESSM (Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile), RAM (Rolling Airframe Missile), Mk-15 Phalanx CIWS (Close-In Weapon System)
Aircraft 75+

* – Bechtel Plant Machinery, Inc. serves the U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program



Ship Laid down Launched Commissioned Homeport
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) 11-13-2009 11-09-2013 07-22-2017 Norfolk, Virginia
USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) 08-22-2015 10-29-2019
USS Enterprise (CVN-80)

NNS Launches USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79)