USS Aircraft Carrier Gerald R. Ford Gets MV, FO Cables

Prysmian Group, world leader in the energy and telecom cables and systems industry, has supplied Medium Voltage 15 KV and optical fibre cables for the new Aircraft Carrier Gerald R. Ford.

The Company has signed a series of contracts with different customers, such as General Atomics, the designer and manufacturer of the Electro-Magnetic Aircraft Launching System (EMALS system), and Huntington Ingalls Industries, the shipyard that will install most of the cables. The contract is worth in excess of $10 million.

Kevin P. Hamilton, Defense, Specialties & OEM Manager for Prysmian Group in North America, said “we have developed a customised 15 KV cable for use in this class of ship. The U.S. Navy had never previously used voltages of more than 5 KV. This cable is a vital part of the new electrical system that has three times the capacity of other aircraft carriers. Without developing this cable, the increase in electrical capacity would not have been possible.”

The additional electrical capability achieved with MV 15 KV cable is needed to support the EMALS system as well as other advanced technology. All fixed-wing aircraft (i.e., non-helicopters) need assistance in getting up to speed for take-off from the aircraft carrier’s deck. Previously, the catapults used were powered by steam. However, General Atomics has developed the EMALS system to use linear induction motors to more finely control aircraft acceleration off the deck. Prysmian Group has received the contract from General Atomics to develop and supply the cables needed to power the system and has supplied more than 85% of the cables used in conjunction with this system.

Prysmian Group has also supplied fibre optic cables qualified to a military specification known as MIL-PRF-85045. These are cables that are fully water-blocked to prevent water from migrating through the cable into other parts of the vessel.

“These fibre optic products – Kevin Hamilton underlines – use radiation-hardened optical fibre and have cross-linked polyolefin jackets for increased durability.”

Prysmian Group has supplied hundreds of kilometres of fibre optic cables for this vessel, which will substantially improve the data networks and automation systems onboard.

The new aircraft carrier is over 1092 feet (333 m) long, accommodates 4,660 people and is airport, maintenance facility and hangar storage for more than 75 aircraft. The ship is scheduled to be water-tight in 2013, after which it will be christened and the dry dock flooded. It will then be towed to a different dock at Newport News Shipbuilding where construction will continue until 2015.

Naval Today Staff, March 14, 2013