NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — President Trump commissioned the USS Gerald R. Ford nearly two years ago. It’s the first in a whole new Ford class of aircraft carriers — with unprecedented technology that includes 11 electromagnetic weapons elevators. So far, only two of the 11 are working.
They’re designed to carry more weapons — and at a faster speed — than conventional systems on previous carriers. That would enable the Ford to launch more sorties in a shorter period of time.
Navy Secretary Richard Spencer vowed he would have them working on the Ford before the carrier’s scheduled departure from Newport News shipbuilding in October, when the Ford is set to resume sea trials.
So the Navy has brought in a team of outside experts to help get the technology working. A Navy spokesman says the trials will move forward as the Navy, Huntington Ingalls and the experts solve the problems and install the remaining nine elevators.
Huntington Ingalls says it welcomes the Navy’s team of independent experts, and is committed to working through the problems and delivering the elevators safely and efficiently. Assistant Navy Secretary James Geurts is calling this a “full court press” on finding a solution.
Geurts expects the outside experts to recommend design changes in future Ford class carriers.
The Ford has already had to solve problems with its aircraft launch and arresting gear systems.
The Navy and Huntington Ingalls are building a land-based test system that will connect Newport News with Naval Surface Warfare in Philadelphia, so the two sites can troubleshoot new carriers simultaneously.
The head of the Senate Armed Services Committee says the Ford needs to be ready by its scheduled deployment in 2021.