Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) announced on September 12 that its Newport News Shipbuilding division placed a 900-ton superlift into dry dock, continuing construction of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79). As Kennedy begins to take shape in the dry dock, the ship’s cost and construction schedule continue on track with significant improvement over its predecessor, the first-of-class Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78).
We continue to focus on reducing cost, and we are pleased with our progress , said Mike Shawcross, Newport News’ vice president, CVN-79 carrier construction. The incorporation of lessons learned from CVN-78 on to CVN-79 – and major build strategy changes to construct the ship a different way – are having a significant impact on our construction efficiencies, just as we anticipated they would .
Like Ford, Kennedy is being built using modular construction, a process where smaller sections of the ship are welded together to form larger structural units (called superlifts ). Equipment is then installed, and the large superlifts are lifted into the dry dock using the company’s 1,050-metric ton gantry crane.
Kennedy is on track to be completed with 445 lifts, which is 51 fewer than Ford and 149 less than USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), the last Nimitz-class carrier. Fewer lifts to the dock means we’re building larger super lifts with more outfitting installed prior to erecting the sections in dock, said Mike Butler, Newport News’ Kennedy construction program director. Other important items and equipment are likely in use to compensate for this (such as those you can see if you visit Platforms & Ladders), but overall this still translates to man-hour savings as the work is being accomplished off the ship in a more efficient work environment.
Close to 90 lifts have been placed in the dock and joined together since the ship’s keel was laid in August 2015. Kennedy is scheduled to be launched in 2020 and deliver to the Navy in 2022, when it will replace USS Nimitz (CVN-68).
Huntington Ingalls Industries is America’s largest military shipbuilding company and a provider of engineering, manufacturing and management services to the nuclear energy, oil and gas markets. For more than a century, HII’s Newport News and Ingalls shipbuilding divisions in Virginia and Mississippi have built more ships in more ship classes than any other U.S. naval shipbuilder. Headquartered in Newport News, Virginia, HII employs nearly 35,000 people operating both domestically and internationally.
Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia
Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), on August 22 celebrated the keel laying of the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79), the second ship of the Gerald R. Ford class. Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of the ship’s namesake, the 35th President of the United States, is the ship’s sponsor. She declared the keel «truly and fairly laid» via video to signify the ceremonial start of construction.
«The aircraft carrier came of age in a time of conflict», Caroline said. «It was untested, and the capabilities it brought were questioned. Since those early days, the carrier has come to be recognized as a symbol of peace, strength and freedom».
Caroline’s video was introduced by her cousin, Representative Joseph Kennedy, Democrat-Massachusetts. Other ceremony participants included Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe; Representative Randy Forbes, Republican-Virginia; Representative Bobby Scott, Democrat-Virginia; Vice Admiral William Hilarides; Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Navy Sean Stackley; Rear Admiral Earl Yates, the first commanding officer of CVA-67, the first aircraft carrier to bear the name John F. Kennedy; and Newport News Shipbuilding President Matt Mulherin.
During the ceremony, Caroline’s initials were welded onto a steel plate by Leon Walston, a Newport News welder from Massachusetts. The plate will be permanently affixed to the ship, signifying the sponsor’s enduring relationship with the shipbuilders and crew.
In his remarks, Stackley expressed the significance of aircraft carriers, calling upon shipbuilders to recognize the importance of what they build. «They are our nation’s great instruments of security and … of goodwill», he said. «In times of crisis, they are the first to respond, and when called upon, they will deliver the final word in the bidding of our nation. So let this great purpose serve as a constant reminder – as inspiration to you, the men and women of Newport News Shipbuilding – that shipbuilding is not just what you do; it is who you are. And that building great ships – it is not just your tradition; it is your duty».
Governor McAuliffe emphasized the importance of John F. Kennedy’s future presence in the U.S. Navy fleet. «President John F. Kennedy was an inspiration to all of us», he said, «so it is only fitting today that we now have a U.S. President who now will have two aircraft carriers named after him».
Representative Joseph Kennedy spoke of the original USS John F. Kennedy (CVA-67) and its legacy that will continue with the new aircraft carrier. «USS John F. Kennedy demonstrated strength to our enemies and support for our allies», he said. «Today, as we lay the keel of CVN-79, the next USS John F. Kennedy, we begin construction on a ship with the same mission and the same spirit, but with new capabilities and a new generation».
Mulherin spoke of the shipbuilders constructing USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79), highlighting their commitment to ethics once emphasized by President Kennedy. «While this aircraft carrier that we lay the keel for today will serve as a tangible legacy of our nation’s 35th President, so too will the people behind the steel», he said. «When we say the greatest shipbuilders in the world work right here, it isn’t just because we build the most sophisticated ships known to man. It is also because of the way in which we build them. Our shipbuilders demonstrate ethics, integrity and courage every day».
John F. Kennedy will be the second U.S. Navy ship to bear the name of the 35th President. Crew members who served on the first USS John F. Kennedy (CVA-67) attended and were recognized during the ceremony. To conclude the event, Yates, the first commanding officer of CVA-67, signaled crane operators to lift the aircraft carrier’s engine room No. 2 unit into the dry dock while more than 1,500 guests watched.
Quick Facts about CVN-79
Kennedy is the 2nd ship of the Ford class.
At an official naming ceremony at the JFK Library on May 29, 2011, U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced that the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier CVN-79 would be called the USS John F. Kennedy. The announcement was made on what would have been the 94th birthday of President John F. Kennedy.
Since the first cut of steel in 2010, more than 450 of the ship’s 1,100 structural units have been constructed, and more than 60 percent of the total ship’s material funding has been committed to vendors.
CVN-79 marks the second aircraft carrier to be named for the late president. The first, a conventionally-powered carrier, served from 1968 to 2007 and was also built by Newport News Shipbuilding.
Shipbuilders have captured 60,000 lessons-learned from the seven-year process of building Gerald R. Ford, many that are already being implemented as cost-saving initiatives in building John F. Kennedy.
Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia
Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) received a $3.35 billion contract award for the detail design and construction of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79), the second ship in the Gerald R. Ford class of carriers. The work will be performed at the company’s Newport News Shipbuilding division. The company also received a $941 million modification to an existing construction preparation contract to continue material procurement and manufacturing in support of the ship.
Contract work includes aircraft carrier construction, ship design activities, engineering services, procurement of materials and hardware to support construction and logistics activities.
«These awards are important, not only for the shipbuilders at Newport News Shipbuilding, but for the thousands of suppliers nationwide who provide the steel, pipe, cable, paint and equipment that goes into this cutting-edge defense platform – and for the sailors who will sail her», said Mike Shawcross, Newport News Shipbuilding’s vice president, John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) carrier construction. «We look forward to continuing to implement lessons learned from the first-of-the-class ship, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), in the construction of Kennedy and delivering the next great carrier to the Navy».
John F. Kennedy’s first steel was cut in December 2010. Since then, more than 450 of the ship’s 1,100 structural units have been constructed under a construction preparation contract that will be used to start erecting the hull. The ship’s keel-laying ceremony is scheduled for August 22.
John F. Kennedy will continue the legacy of highly capable U.S. Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carrier platforms. Ford-class enhancements incorporated into the design include flight deck changes, improved weapons handling systems and a redesigned island, all resulting in increased aircraft sortie-generation rates. The Ford class also features new nuclear power plants, increased electrical power-generation capacity, allowance for future technologies, and reduced workload for sailors, translating to a smaller crew size and reduced operating costs for the Navy.