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.


  1. Are our American cousins adopt the automated weapons handling system as on the QEclass? If not, why not?
    Also any news on the catapult system? President Trump announced a return to steam does that mean on the new Big E?

    • No on the steam EMALS has pretty much had the bugs worked out. Also is necessary for the the USNs new drones to be launched including supposedly the tanker drone unless you under load it.
      On the automated weapon handling system maybe but unlikely. The Ford-class already has increased automation compared to a Nimitz. But the USN has always been unwilling to install a system like one that was installed on the QE. One similar was offered as early as USS Truman. However they are of the opinion that such systems are to easily broken.And leave you short personnel who could be performing maintenance or training replacements when not in combat operations.

  2. Are our American cousins adopting the automated weapons handling system as on the QEclass? If not, why not?
    Also any news on the catapult system? President Trump announced a return to steam does that mean on the new Big E?

  3. Apparently $28 Bn isn’t enough to spend on two carriers. they are now embarking on a further $12 Bn spend on a third. A total sum that in itself that would buy 8 QE carriers.

    While some US citizens die for want of health care ….

    I admire the Yanks in so many ways but something has gone WAY wrong here …..

  4. For a carrier that while larger is both faster and needs to be refueled less. Carries a larger more capable air group due to having a catapult and not a ski jump. Due to not having to carry fuel for itself being able to carry more fuel and munitions for it’s air group. Therefore able to sustain strikes longer. A marine company capable in terms of numbers of actually accomplishing something. Buy 8 QEs? Where pray tell would we get crew assuming the 1600 figure reported once air complement added each?
    Oh and lets not forget not spending several billion dollars on a carrier and then being so cheap as to only buy 3 phalanx guns she is unlike QE capable of self defense.
    Some U.S. citizens die for want of health care? That is a myth. The U.S. has the highest cancer survival rate. The longest survival time for chronic care. Also your hospital doesn’t close down by Government fiat. Health care in the U.S is the best in the world it is just priced accordingly and if you are truly poor there is this little the called Medicaid or if you are old Medicare. Also we didn’t have something like the NHS still using XP in 2017!

    • Elliott – But is the Ford worth 3 times the cost of a QE Class. You never answered that little conundrum.

      Now as to faster – Maybe by 5 knots

      Refuelling – Well if its moving more weapons and aircraft fuel it will need more frequent RAS surely? And 4,500 crew will need 3 times the feeding of 1,600 on the QE. Plus you forgot all the Carrier Group ships are NOT nuclear powered, therefore will need RAS and no matter the speed of the carrier it only goes as fast as the slowest in its accompanying group.

      Ski Ramp – Yes it has a larger air group but more capable? Both will have 5th Gen F-35s. The ski ramp actually has no effect on the size of the air group that is dependent on the size of the ship itself. You also forgot to mention that initial sortie rate is faster off a ramp than having to stage off a CATOBAR system. Overall its about 10% less than a 24 hour Nimitz rate.

      8 x QEs – Sorry you had to twist the point I was making. Which was that by the time ‘Enterprise’ is launched (the subject of this article) the USA will have spent some $40 Bn on 3 carriers. For which the UK could have built 8 QE Class. Costs for cost comparison not crews. Having said that 3 x Fords will need 13,500 people!

      Phalanx – Defence of the carrier is what a carrier group is for. If you are having to use lots of Phalanx etc on the carrier itself its all gone a bit Pete Tong ….

      US Health Care – If its a ‘myth’ why did Obama spend such a huge amount of political capital getting more health care down to the poorer people in the USA? And those with ‘prior conditions’ etc? It was and is a reality. Why is career choice based on an employer’s health care plans? Its great if you can afford it or if it is provided but if not? And forget ‘Medicaid … I lived and worked there and saw it up close and personal I assure you. Its not even compulsory for individual States to join the programme. I had UK based visitor health insurance so I was OK (although never needed it). The simple fact is if you are poor (and by definition more likely to have bad health) then in the USA you are far more likely to die. Some 45,000 do every year. Let me quote you the US Congressional Budget Office:
      ” ….estimated last month that 23 million people would lose their health insurance over the next decade if the Republican bill that passed the House made it into law. The CBO is yet to score the Senate version”
      And in the USA when you lose that insurance you do not get treated if you cannot pay.

      • In the USA, if you do not have health care, the hospitals still have to treat you, as far as obozo, his health care was a joke, he just created a bigger mess and increased the costs, all to claim that he helped the poor, it was a gimmick to get more votes, obozo wanted votes and what better way than to make many dependent on the government dole. If you need health care, you cant be denied. obozo and friends tried to gut the military, thankfully we are headed in a different direction now. I am sure with a population of over 350 million, the people can be found to man the Carriers, the new Carriers will be replacing older ones anyhow.

      • Where to begin?
        Start with the Ford-class will use the F-35C not the F-35B meaning that it’s variant can carry a much heavier load. While I might STILL having a greater range. You are always giving up a lot of capabilities by buying a STOVL fighter.
        On defense being the escorts job. Yes that is their job provided they are still alive or not crippled. Considering how small a escort group is planned. Not much margin for casualties there.
        On the crew yes it needs more. Because the U.S. is not going to buy a automated munitions system. The Navy determined that they break to often and would have a high accident rate. The idea was discussed and dismissed from procurement all the way back on the last 3 Nimitz class.
        On ski jump being 10% less than the Nimitz rate. Hmm source? Penny pinching government who saw the cost of making QE CATOBAR. Even if true 10% less from planes that carry less and with less flight time.
        Also I am well aware the escorts aren’t nuclear powered. Due to the retirement of the Virginia-class cruiser in the 90s and the 1980s canceling of their intended replacement. But that is not the point. Where QE has to carry fuel for herself most of that space is given over to aviation fuel and magazines both of which are harder to get ahold of in theater. Escorts can refuel in nearly any port or you send for the nearest navy tanker. This while the carrier does not have to risk itself in a hostile port. The only reason not build Nuclear is political and short term versus long term finance. In short is it worth more yes emphatically yes.More bombs on target more marines delivered to theater longer service life. No two island structure because it needed an exhaust pipe getting in the way of more ready aircraft.
        Also on President Obama and Obamacare it’s called attempted vote buying with the government largess. In the U.K. Labor does it with spending and the Torys do it with tax cuts. Swap Labor with Democrat and hard right Tory with Republican you have the U.S.
        If the U.S. Healthcare system is so bad how come so many foreigners including Brits fly to the U.S. spend hard currency on places like Johns Hopkins, MdAnderson, Mayo Clinic, Texas Children’s. Medicaid I doubt you saw it as up close and personal as I did in my youth. Long before it was expanded in both the early 00s under President Bush or later in some places under President Obama. Also you are in fact treated you just go into debt. I recall a emergency room visit coverd in blood with a snapped neck (car accident). They didn’t exactly say cash or check in the ER.
        But I digress you seem to be a Marxist-Socialist and we will never agree. Nor is this a political or sociology site it is a defense site. Why you thought the American healthcare and social system was pertinent to the topic I do not know. A quote from the “Remain will be the result”, “Milliband is the next prime minister”, and last but not least ” Trump has no path to 270″ Guardian.

        • Hard right Tory! This is not true, the Conservative party in the UK is socialist, it just a matter of degree.

        • Elliott – I will just pick up on one of your assumptions:
          “But I digress you seem to be a Marxist-Socialist and we will never agree”
          How wrong you are Old Son. But then as an American I guess you assume anyone who dares to question US policy is a Marxist? I am a true Blue old school campaigning Tory. Have been all my life and I am now 70. I also ‘did my bit’ so I need no lectures on the value of our, or indeed any, military.

          What has happened here is an American has done what they always do and launched into a monologue to denigrate everything British because I merely made the observation:
          “I admire the Yanks in so many ways but something has gone WAY wrong here”
          Note those first 8 words Soft Lad ……

          • @Chris re: US healthcare – indeed.

            The paradox is that in the US, if you have the money or the right insurance policy you can get the best care in the world. But nationally, it is still a stain on a great nation that so many US citizens needlessly die each year for want of proper healthcare. And as you have said, pointing this sad fact our does not make either of us marxists….

            best Tim62

      • Chris, don’t worry about the costs involved in the Ford carrier program. We can afford it.

        Our carriers are nuclear powered because that is part of US Navy policy. Also our country spends the extra cash on nuclear powered carriers because we can afford it. It lessens the burden on logistics when replenishing the ships at sea. If our carriers were conventional they would need even more fuel to top off their tanks and our carriers would need to carry more fuel just for the ship let alone for other things like the aviation part. In other words it’s more efficient the way we have it set up now. The US Navy has carrier operations down to a science. The absolute best in the world. Your criticisms of how the USN does its job and how much is spent is absolutely non point. We aren’t going to take points on how carrier operations should be or shouldn’t from the English. You’re taking those pointers from US.

        You can’t compare ski jumps to CATOBAR. They’re the primitive less costly choice for a navy wishing to field a carrier. CATOBARs are expensive and complex. But they offer the advantages of launching and recovering a full range of aircraft that wouldn’t be serviceable on a non CATOBAR carrier like the Queen Elizabeth. Face it the reason you English have the QEs is because that’s all you can afford to have and operate.

        You bringing up Obamacare? No please don’t. It’s been a travesty and we wish it was gone.

          • 500 years and it’s tiny compared to the USN. How about that.
            The United States Navy is unrivaled in history and in power. You barely have enough ships and you complain about it all the time here. How about that.

  5. That’s all true. I’ve lived in both countries and can honestly say that healthcare is much better in the U.S. There’s nothing wrong with spending money on carriers, either. They are probably the #1 stick in the arsenal of democracy – heavily used to great effect since Midway.


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