US Navy’s aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford has conducted a third explosive event off the coast of Jacksonville, marking the completion of the ship’s full ship shock trials (FSST).
As disclosed, the unit withstood the impact of three 40,000-pound underwater blasts, released at distances progressively closer to the ship.
Ford’s Commanding Officer, Capt. Paul Lanzilotta, was the tactical commander that ordered the go/no-go decision, based on the interplay of several crucial variables, such as ship and crew readiness, weather, and sea state, as well as pre-set environmental mitigation measures.
The goal of the tests was to ensure that Ford’s integrated combat systems perform as designed and “the tests demonstrated—and proved to the crew, fairly dramatically—that the ship will be able to withstand formidable shocks and continue to operate under extreme conditions,” said Brian Metcalf, manager for the Navy’s future aircraft carrier program office, PMS 378.
The first two trials had taken place in June and July as the US Navy officials tested the ship’s ability to withstand shocks.
After completing the shock trials, the ship will return to the tidewater area for a six-month planned incremental availability (PIA).
As the PIA begins, teams will conduct additional detailed inspections, assess any damage sustained during the shots, and continue modernization and maintenance work in advance of workups for the ship’s deployment in 2022.
“We’re designing and building these aircraft carriers to sail in some of the world’s most contested security environments. So when you think about the threats to warships posed by non-contact blasts and the number of sea mines in the inventories of navies around the world, the gravity and consequence of these shock trials really come into focus,” James P. Downey, program executive officer for aircraft carriers stated.
Downey added that only about 5% of the work completed during the upcoming maintenance period will be related to fixing items that broke during shock trials; the rest will be modernizing the ship to get it ready for future operations.