Construction of US Navy’s aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy hits important milestone

The construction of the US Navy’s aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy has reached a significant milestone, American shipbuilding company Huntington Ingalls Industries revealed.

Illustration; Photo: HII

As informed, the company achieved a milestone in the compartment and systems construction of aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN 79).

Newport News recently turned over to the ship’s crew the 1,000th compartment of the 2,615 total spaces. The milestone reflects the shipyard’s steady progress toward delivery of the ship to the navy, according to the statement.

Newport News has also installed more than 9.8 million feet of cable, or more than 1,800 miles, of the approximately 10.5 million feet of cable on the vessel.

The completed spaces include electrical and engineering. This will allow sailors assigned to the pre-commissioning unit to increase training on the ship while final outfitting and testing process.

John F. Kennedy, the second in the Ford class, was launched in late October 2019 and is the second aircraft carrier of the Gerald R. Ford class, slated to replace USS Nimitz (CVN 68) when that ship is decommissioned.

The ship was christened in December 2019 and is scheduled to be delivered to the US Navy in 2024. Two other Ford-class aircraft carriers are currently under construction at Newport News, Enterprise (CVN 80) and Doris Miller (CVN 81).

The Ford-class aircraft carriers are the first to be designed 100% digitally.

John F. Kennedy represents a transition to a new digital construction process, with shipbuilders beginning to use visual work instructions on laptops and tablets rather than paper drawings. 

The ship is being built in sections with more outfitted equipment—valves, pipe, electrical panels, mounting studs, lighting, ventilation and other components—than any other aircraft carrier built at Newport News.

The use of new technologies, including digital work instructions that provide shipbuilders digital 3-D data versus traditional paper drawings, has increased efficiency and productivity, the shipbuilder said.

Enterprise will be the first carrier totally built using digital tools.

Ford-class ship enhancements incorporated into the design include flight deck changes, improved weapons handling systems and a redesigned island, all resulting in increased aircraft sortie-generation rates.

The aircraft carriers also feature new nuclear power plants, increased electrical power-generation capacity, allowance for future technologies, and reduced workload for sailors, translating to smaller crew size and reduced operating costs for the US Navy.

Construction processes on Ford-class carriers are enabled by workforce learning that took place on USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) and those lessons are being applied throughout the Ford class.