Huntington Ingalls Industries has cut a 35-ton steel plate at its Newport News Shipbuilding division to kick off advance construction of the USS Enterprise.
The steel plate will become part of the foundation of Enterprise, the ninth U.S. Navy ship to bear the legendary name.
Ship’s sponsors and U.S. Olympic gold medalists Simone Biles and Katie Ledecky gave the order to cut the steel during a ceremony that marks the first construction milestone in the life of the ship. Other ceremony participants included Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va.; Rear Adm. Brian K. Antonio, program executive officer, aircraft carriers; shipbuilders and their families; and representatives of the recently decommissioned Enterprise (CVN 65).
Newport News is performing the work under an advance fabrication contract the shipyard was awarded earlier this year. Award of the CVN 80 detail design and construction contract is anticipated in 2018. Construction is currently underway on the second ship of the class, John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), with more than 50 percent of the structural units already erected.
Newport News Shipbuilding President Jennifer Boykin said CVN 80’s construction will incorporate greater innovation and efficiency:
“With this ship, we will ‘boldly go where no one has gone before’.
She will be built using digital technology rather than traditional paper work packages and drawings.
We will build more of this ship indoors, in new facilities so that our people have more opportunities to work under cover and out of the weather. CVN 80 will revolutionise how we build ships, just as her predecessor, CVN 65—the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier—revolutionised our industry.”
CVN 80 will be the third Gerald R. Ford class aircraft carrier. Designed to replace Nimitz-class carriers, the Ford class features a new nuclear power plant, a redesigned island, electromagnetic catapults, improved weapons movement, an enhanced flight deck capable of increased aircraft sortie rates, and growth margin for future technologies.
Each Ford-class ship will operate with a smaller crew than a Nimitz-class carrier and will provide $4 billion in total ownership cost savings for the US Navy.