Dive Into How The World's Largest Aircraft Carrier Became A $13 Billion Fiasco (2023)

The late 20th century was a time of supreme American confidence and rapid innovation. The Cold War was ending, the digital age was upon us, and the Pentagon saw an opportunity to capitalize on peacetime and prepare for future conflicts. With few diplomatic or military distractions, the United States launched a revolution in military technology.

Out of that boom came ambitions for a new class of aircraft carrier, spearheaded by the USS transformer.Gerald R. Ford, a ship that features an enlarged flight deck, a beefed up power plant and support for nearly two dozen new technologies. Expectations were high. HeI goThe nuclear reactor and the propulsion system would triple the electrical power of the previous one.NimitzFirst-class aircraft carrier By comparison, its state-of-the-art weapons elevators would move 20,000 pounds of ammunition at a speed of 150 feet per minuteNimitzspeed of 100 feet per minute. Its new launch and recovery system could handle 270 aircraft in a single day. From stem to stern, the ship's innovations designed to save time, cost and crew would revolutionize the way the US military built and deployed aircraft carriers. HeI goit would be a symbol of American superiority and the power projected over American adversaries over five decades of reliable service.

"There was this thought: 'We are so far ahead of everyone else that we can afford to take a strategic break, take risks and try new and unproven technologies in our acquisition,'" said Eric Wertheim, defense analyst and expert of the United States Navy. Institute of the Nation's Post-Cold War Mentality. "And there was a feeling that the rest of the world is at least 20 years behind us."

But after two decades of development and delays, there is audacity that conceived thisI goseemed to herald his downfall. Military personnel are expected to save $4 billion over their lifetimeI goin fact, it cost billions more than originally estimated. It was supposed to be deployed for the first time in 2018, but it is expected to be deployed by 2024. When the ship arrived at the Navy after construction, it was already two years late and thousands of works were missing. In 2015, Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a former Navy aviator, called for all of these technologies to be included in theI go"the original sin" that corrupted the program.

Even the senior naval officer acknowledged the problems that plagued the carrier. “We had 23 new technologies on the [USSGerald R. Ford], which frankly increased the risk of timely and cost-effective delivery early on,” Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday said in a virtual chat ahead of the Navy League's Sea Air Space 2021 exhibit. "And I think the industry is fully on board: We really shouldn't introduce more than one or two new technologies into such a complex platform to keep the risk at a manageable level."

"Battleships are the only weapon in which the prototype goes to sea."

Meanwhile, naval advances by US opponents added to the urgencyI goProblems solution . Critics of the ship point to its expanded budget and schedule as evidence that the US military should reconsider the development of massive nuclear-powered aircraft carriers as a critical element of its naval program. Military adviser Norman Polmar points out that recent US conflicts in the Middle East have not even been usedNimitzfull class. "Look what we did in Iraq," he says. “We launch [only] 20 or 30 attacks a day from an aircraft carrier with 70 planes.” And Representative Adam Smith, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, questioned whether theI goThe price justifies its usefulness. During a 2021 Brookings Institution discussion, Smith asked if there were other ways to "bring unmanned systems closer to combat that don't cost $12 billion".

Today, despite years of setbacks and adverse reactions, theI gothere are signs that it can fulfill its mission. Its critical technologies come to life and the Navy accelerates the carrier's operating schedule. but like himI goAs it nears its first deployment, its successes and failures are still on public display. Talbot Manvel, a retired Navy captain who led development of the original Ford-class aircraft carrier concept from 1996 to 2001, points out that this multi-billion dollar floating airport must be combat-ready to prove its capability and necessity on the test bench. . "Warships are the only weapon where the prototype sets sail," he says.

Dive Into How The World's Largest Aircraft Carrier Became A $13 Billion Fiasco (1)

An F/A-18 Hornet takes off from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in the Persian Gulf in February 2003.

Dive Into How The World's Largest Aircraft Carrier Became A $13 Billion Fiasco (2)

(Video) Incredible Life Inside World's Largest $13 Billion Aircraft Carrier

In 1993, a Navy task force began researching new technologies for a new class of aircraft carriers. Nimitz-class technologies, already a quarter of a century old, had evolved beyond their capabilities, and aircraft carriers were beginning to sag under their own weight, unable to support all these capabilities.

In 1998, the Navy launched the CVN(X) program to replace the Nimitz-class with another major class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. Technologies under development for this new class would be applied to the USSGeorge HW Strauch- Nimitz's tenth and final aircraft carrier - and advance to the next class. But in 2002, then-US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld changed course. Seeking a bolder step, he directed the technology development, ship design and construction of what he called "transformational" aircraft carriers, and the Navy initiated the CVN 21 program, later christened the Ford class. Such R&D would cost nearly $5 billion (separated fromI go$13 billion to build), the result is an aircraft carrier class that currently includes four ships, three in addition to the flagshipI go. Prefab on the class favorite, the USSGerald R. Ford, started in 2005.

The Navy designs each aircraft carrier with an assembly order in mind. Each ship block contains a specific arrangement of structural and technological components, and when workers from the Newport News Shipbuilding Division of Huntington Ingalls Industries in Virginia, the nation's only nuclear-powered aircraft carrier manufacturer, complete the blocks adjacent, they unite them into a complete section. of the ship, called an "elevator", which sometimes weighs hundreds of tons. With the help of cranes, the builders put the tie rods in place to form the ship's hull.I goConstruction was complex; It took 496 elevators.

"It was a crazy transformation."

Building a ship this way means material and technology delays can have a ripple effect on the design. Signs of trouble began to appear as early as 2007; the electromagnetic starting system, one of the company's technologies inI goIt was already over a year late. "The warning signs were there," says Shelby Oakley, director of the Office of Government Accountability's national security procurement and procurement team. Even before construction began, the GAO had markedI goto the Navy as a poor business model, highlighting its risky cost estimates and shipbuilding plans.

ANDI goThe construction contract for Newport News Shipbuilding went to Newport News Shipbuilding in 2008; Building the ship was a messy and chaotic process. The shipyard started construction while some of theI goTechnologies were still evolving and faced design revisions. Modifications to accommodate the space, weight, and utility of these components contributed to a total of 19,000 eventual design changes. The Navy planned many of these changes in anticipation of technological developments, but other changes were unexpected.

Dive Into How The World's Largest Aircraft Carrier Became A $13 Billion Fiasco (3)

Airmen Isaiah Gamble, left, and Achigbue Uche, both assigned to the USSGerald R. FordAir detachment, roll up a messenger cable while installing a capture cable in the cockpit.

a striking featureI go- though troublesome - is its state-of-the-art Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG). BeforeI go, US aircraft carriers have used a hydraulic restraint system to slow and stop landing aircraft, but the AAG uses an electric motor and water tornado to accommodate a wide range of aircraft, including UAVs. Engineering and fabrication of the AAG began in 2005, with 2009 as the estimated completion date. However, a 2016 Pentagon Inspector General report noted that developmental testing for the AAG would continue through 2018. The system had not yet proven powerful or secure enough to be tested in the US.I go. Between 2009 and 2012, AAG's power conditioning system failed several tests, requiring the inverter system and snubber cable to be re-engineered. The setbacks caused AAG's development costs to skyrocket from $143 million to more than $1 billion, according to a report by Senator McCain's office.

Manvel says he opposed the AAGI goas early as 1998, with the desire to place it on later ships of the class after its design matured. He escaped until Rumsfeld intervened with his transformative vision. “It was a crazy transformation,” says Manvel.

Dive Into How The World's Largest Aircraft Carrier Became A $13 Billion Fiasco (4)

(Video) Inside The World's Largest Aircraft Carrier

Once the technologies in the past are left behindI go, structural shipbuilding continued, and this disparity would require corrections. HeI goDual Band Radar (DBR), a combination volume-seeking radar and multipurpose radar intended for long-range surveillance, air traffic control and missile communications, was originally developed for use on Zumwalt-class cruisers with guided missiles. But due to delays in building the cruisers themselves, the Navy has halted the volume search for Zumwalt's DBR, leaving this particular feature untested and incomplete prior to implementation.I go.

“This [brought] an important change to theI goTest and development program,” said Rear Admiral James Downey, executive officer of the Navy's aircraft carrier program, whose responsibilities also included chief engineer for the CVN(X) program and program manager for the Zumwalt class.

Ground tests of the volume-seeking radar that would have been conducted under Zumwalt were suspended and delays in contracting and further testing hampered its development.I go.

These tests continued even after the installation of the radarI go, ending nearly five years later than planned. The tests themselves revealed problems with the DBR's power control system and the resulting changes required cutbacks on the part of the shipbuilder.I go's Island, your command and control tower, to carry out repairs.

But Manvel says Rumsfeld consideredI gotoo important to fail, going so far as to say the former defense secretary was right. No matter how much time or money was needed, the United States would ensure that theI godelivered because, as Marvel puts it, "America always wants the best." In 2013, after slippages in construction costs and inflation, theI goThe cost cap exploded from $10.5 billion to $12.9 billion by order of Congress. The Navy hit that ceiling and sped it upI goof the fleet by postponing work on more than 9,000 items.

Dive Into How The World's Largest Aircraft Carrier Became A $13 Billion Fiasco (5)

die USSGerald R. Fordunder construction at Newport News Shipbuilding, Feb 2012.

Dive Into How The World's Largest Aircraft Carrier Became A $13 Billion Fiasco (6)

(Video) Japanese BILLIONS $ Aircraft Carrier Is Finally Ready For Action! | US Shocked

It took new leadership from Downey (he took over as program operator in the summer of 2019) to break the cycle of honors. He was instrumental in the redemption ofI go11 Advanced Weapons Elevators (AWE), designed to reduce the movement of bombs within the ship by up to 75 percent compared to the Nimitz class. Less ammo handling means more safety and maneuverability for gliders and flat-top aircraft. Faster movement plays an important role in increasing mission authorizations (also known as deployments).I gothe success of

When the Navy orderedI goAs of July 2017, none of the elevators are fully operational. if thatI goIn 2019, when the testing and post-delivery testing phase began, only four elevators were in service. While the GAO has cited premature corrosion of electrical components and failing parts as problems with AWEs in recent years, Downey appears to have been the main software-related hurdle.

Meanwhile, with renewed urgency to have working elevators, industrial workers began to stirI goHe was at sea instead of waiting until he reached the dock. Downey also opened offices at the Newport News Shipyard as well as the Newport News Shipyard.I goHomeport near Norfolk Naval Station. Review daily work item reviews with project managers. "To this day, we still do daily shutdowns, myself included," says Downey. “I think it's critical to keep these big projects on track, and you can't do that on a monthly or quarterly basis.” Your procedural tweaks seem to have worked. The last of the gun lifts was handed over toI gothe crew on Dec. 22, 2021, the Navy said.

Aircraft take-off and recovery was another area of ​​concern. The Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System or EMALS is said to make an average of 4,166 launches between failures. A Pentagon report from early 2021 found that theI goHe averaged just 181 shots between errors. Meanwhile, AAG aims to perform an average of 16,500 pre-failure recoveries. The average was 48. Downey doesn't dispute those numbers, but notes that the Pentagon's report covered the carrier's initial delivery and testing phase, and largely missed post-delivery testing and testing, a time when the carrier aircraft carrier crew experienced the operation. . Boat. Right now,I goHe performed less than 800 aircraft launches and recoveries in total. Has surpassed 8,000 throws and recoveries.

Dive Into How The World's Largest Aircraft Carrier Became A $13 Billion Fiasco (7)

An F/A-18F Super Hornet, assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23, flies over the aircraft carrier USSGerald R. Ford, July 2017.

Dive Into How The World's Largest Aircraft Carrier Became A $13 Billion Fiasco (8)

ANDI goHe corrected his rebellious trajectory in a big way by finding ideal ways to bond his crew with new technologies. While at sea, theI goIt became the Navy's East Coast platform for over 400 pilots to obtain or maintain their certification to fly. During that time, seafarers became familiar with the ship's systems and made their own recommendations on how to operate them. During eight and a half hours of daytime flight operations in December 2020, theI goscored 175 saved landings, more than the expected 160 in a 12-hour flight day. EMALS has become a morale booster for seafarers working on the system, says Navy Captain Paul Lanzilotta, who took commandI goEarly 2021. At the end of a day's flight, aircraft chiefs press a button to put EMALS in standby mode, saving hours of pre- and post-flight maintenance required by the Nimitz class.

"It's a different mindset and environment that they work in," says Lanzilotta. "[The team is] much smarter about electronics and electronic systems."

I gocompleted 18 months of post-delivery testing and spring 2021 testingI goThe first projected deployment date, 2024 to 2022. This is where a military decision to run things concurrently paid off. whileI goWorking on her refueling trials, the Navy subjected the ship to live-fire combat system tests and carrier strike group operations. HeI godespite the crisis, it surpassed all benchmarks.

(Video) US Testing its New Gigantic $13 Billion Aircraft Carrier

It was a decision born out of weariness and practicality: if only there were more weaknesses on boardI go, the Navy wanted to expose them as soon as possible, says Downey.

Dive Into How The World's Largest Aircraft Carrier Became A $13 Billion Fiasco (9)

die USSGerald R. Fordperforms high-speed turns in the Atlantic in October 2019.

Dive Into How The World's Largest Aircraft Carrier Became A $13 Billion Fiasco (10)

The Ford class will likely operate in a different climate than military leaders predicted two decades ago. As the US military focused on counterinsurgency in the Middle East, Russia became active in the Arctic and China began to aggressively expand its naval capabilities. China's DF-21D "Carrier Killer" missile has a range of up to 2,485 miles, enough to put US military bases on Guam within striking distance of mainland China.

“If we don’t make progress on the aircraft carrier capacity cap, what will happen if China continues to gradually recover?” asks Matthew Funaiole, senior fellow at the China Energy Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. China is currently building a third aircraft carrier of its own, called the Type 003. While it is unlikely to compete with a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, it could include an electromagnetic launch system that could bypass the more common steam launch systems today, says Funaiole. Even if the launch system doesn't appear on the Type 003, Funaiole is waiting for it on the successor ship.

The context forI goDeployment of the device is under increasing pressure, but many see the ship, along with the other three in its class, as the pinnacle of aircraft carrier technology. "I'm sure we're going to have the Ford class and it's going to be a great ship," said Wertheim of the Naval Institute. "It takes longer and it's more expensive, and maybe it doesn't have to be that way, but we're going to fix these things. We shouldn't see the Ford class as a big failure. It's more of a 'What can we do better next time?'

The "next time" is already here. Ford's three successors: the USS John F. Kennedy, the USS Enterprise and the USSDoris Mueller– take shape at Newport News Shipbuilding. HeKennedyIt is expected to arrive first in the Navy in 2024, and theMüllermost recently in 2032. Meanwhile, theI goHe eventually tries his hand at sea, but his saga takes the ins and outs of building a modern aircraft carrier, designing a ship around an assessment of modern adversaries and a forecast of future military contexts. the lessons ofI goHer construction will inform the broader debate over whether the naval service should bank on a massive nuclear flagship, but the next decade is upon us, and the Navy expects the world's newest and most advanced warship to be in service for half a century. . for the time beingI gois the future

🎥 Now watch:

Dive Into How The World's Largest Aircraft Carrier Became A $13 Billion Fiasco (11)

(Video) US Is Testing Its New Gigantic $13 Billions Aircraft Carrier


What is the Navy's new 13 billion dollar? ›

The USS Gerald R. Ford, US Navy's newest aircraft carrier, embarked on its maiden deployment on Tuesday. The carrier cost more than $13 billion and will work with countries like Canada, France and Germany on training for air defence, anti-submarine warfare and amphibious operations.

Why US Navy aircraft carriers are almost impossible to sink? ›

So, the combination of a reinforced hull, watertight compartments, damage control systems, redundant systems, self-defense capabilities, and carrier strike groups make aircraft carriers one of the most durable and hard-to-sink ships in the world.

Where is USS Gerald Ford now? ›

In November 2022, the USS Gerald Ford returned to its homeport in Norfolk, Virginia, upon completion of its maiden voyage.

What is the Navy's best kept secret? ›

Marketed to potential recruits as “the best kept secret in the US Navy,” Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewman, or SWCC, units comprise elite gunboat drivers who support Navy SEALs and other special operations units.

What is the oldest US Navy ship still in commission? ›

USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned ship in the United States Navy. Naval officers and crew still serve aboard the ship today. The USS Constitution is operated by the United States Navy, a partner to the National Parks of Boston.

Is a carrier bigger than the Titanic? ›

How Big Was The Titanic Compared to an Aircraft Carrier? Modern aircraft carriers are, on average, 25% longer than the Titanic was and are 3x as wide.

What is the most powerful warship in the world today? ›

The U.S. Navy's newest warship, USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) is the largest and most technologically advanced surface combatant in the world.

What country has the strongest aircraft carrier? ›

the United States

What is the largest U.S. battleship ever built? ›

USS Missouri (BB-63)

Does the U.S. have any battleships left? ›

The last battleships were struck from the U.S. Naval Vessel Register in the 2000s. Many World War II-era battleships remain in use today as museum ships.

Has the U.S. ever lost a carrier? ›

Twelve aircraft carriers were sunk by the enemy during World War II -- five fleet carriers, a seaplane tender and six escort carriers. The loss of the Bismarck Sea was the last time that a U.S. carrier went down due to enemy action.

What weapon can sink an aircraft carrier? ›

There are four types of weapons that pose a danger to carriers: cruise missiles launched from aircraft, ships or land bases; ballistic missiles launched from ships or land bases; torpedoes launched from submarines; and drifting or tethered mines. The carrier battle group has defenses for coping with each.

Why do aircraft carriers not tip over? ›

The aircraft carrier is able to float on water because the bottom of the ship, the hull, is designed to displace a large amount of water. The volume of water that the ship displaces weighs more than the weight of the entire ship.

Can a cruise missile sink an aircraft carrier? ›

Russian cruise missiles carry up to one-ton warheads designed to destroy huge aircraft carriers. Many U.S. Navy officers see this and favor large warheads, circa 500 pounds or greater, even though the likely targets are cruisers and smaller ships.

Has a US Navy SEAL ever been captured? ›

The SEAL Legacy has been developed and fostered for the more than 50-year history of the United States Navy SEAL Teams. NO SEAL has ever been captured and NO SEAL has ever been left behind on the field of battle, dead or alive.

What does the Navy yell? ›

Oorah is a battle cry common in the United States Marine Corps since the mid-20th century. It is comparable to hooah in the US Army and hooyah in the US Navy and US Coast Guard. It is most commonly used to respond to a verbal greeting or as an expression of enthusiasm. (Source: Wikipedia.)

What does the Navy call their military police? ›

Naval police personnel are sometimes called "masters-at-arms" and/or "shore patrol". Law enforcement personnel of an air force are sometimes called "air police", "security police" or "security forces".

How much is the Navy Nuke bonus? ›

Nuclear Accession Bonus Program

An accession bonus of up to $15,000 is paid to officers selected for nuclear propulsion training. Upon successful completion of the nuclear propulsion training program, officers receive a bonus of $2,000. If they don't complete the program, the bonus must be repaid.

What is replacing the Zumwalt? ›

The warship's mission will remain surface strike, and the Zumwalt's SPY-3 radar would be replaced with the SPY-6 (v)3, both of which are made by Raytheon. Responses are due Dec.

How much does 1 U.S. destroyer cost? ›

The class is named for Admiral Arleigh Burke, an American destroyer officer in World War II and later Chief of Naval Operations.
Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.
Class overview
Preceded byKidd class Spruance class
Succeeded byZumwalt class DDG(X)
CostUS$1.843 billion per ship (DDG 114–116, FY2011/12)
29 more rows

What is the newest US Navy warship? ›

U.S. Navy's Newest Aircraft Carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Arrives in Portsmouth > United States Navy > News-Stories.


1. US Testing its New Gigantic $13 Billion Aircraft Carrier
(Front Cost)
2. The True Cost Of The Most Advanced Aircraft Carrier | True Cost
(Insider Business)
3. US Billions $ Aircraft Carrier Is Finally Ready For Action
(Front Cost)
4. US Testing its New Gigantic $13 Billion Aircraft Carrier
(Tech Space)
5. Cooking Inside US $3 Billion Submarine Hiding Deep Underwater
6. 3 Aircraft Carriers Defeated 200 Warships?The Untold Truth of the Japanese Navy’s Fiasco in Midway
(ClayTab Military)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Aracelis Kilback

Last Updated: 03/05/2023

Views: 6228

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (44 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Aracelis Kilback

Birthday: 1994-11-22

Address: Apt. 895 30151 Green Plain, Lake Mariela, RI 98141

Phone: +5992291857476

Job: Legal Officer

Hobby: LARPing, role-playing games, Slacklining, Reading, Inline skating, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Dance

Introduction: My name is Aracelis Kilback, I am a nice, gentle, agreeable, joyous, attractive, combative, gifted person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.