The USS Gerald R. Ford’s delivery to the US Navy has been postponed from its original date this summer to October. This is due to unexpected issues that arose in the main propulsion system and the ship’s new weapons elevators. The delay is expected, at the moment, to last some three months, with the Ford beginning workups early next year.
The USS Gerald R. Ford recently entered dry dock ahead of the start of its Post-Shakedown Availability (PSA) period. The PSA was initially scheduled to finish in July. That schedule has been pushed back to delivery in October to allow for additional time to finish repairs to the power plant’s turbines and the Advanced Weapon Elevators. Navy Acquisition chief, James Geurts, told the HASC the following: “All three of those causal factors – making the adjustments to the nuclear power plant that we noted during sea trials, fitting in all of the post-shakedown availability workload and finishing up the elevators – they’re all trending about the same time,” he told the committee. “So, October right now is our best estimate. The fleet has been notified of that. They’re working that into their train-up cycle afterward.”
Sailors discovered the problems with the propulsion during the ship’s sea trials, and the issues focused on two of the turbine generators. Guerts noted to Congress that the problem was not with the reactors themselves, which are of a new design compared to those on the Nimitz class carriers, but with the electrical generators that operate off the steam produced by the reactor plant.
The other primary issue facing the Ford at the moment is its ordnance elevators. Two of eleven are fully functional at the moment, with the second one achieving full operation early last month. The new elevators will, when fully operational, be able to move more ordnance, faster, than previous models. Navy representatives have said that with the new elevators, they will be able to more than double the amount of ordnance moved, one and a half times faster than existing models.
USS Gerald R. Ford is slated to begin its first work up at the end of this year, in time for its very first deployment in 2021.