Construction of Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier reaches milestone

Posted at 7:16 PM, May 24, 2012

It was a big day of heavy lifting at the Newport News Shipyard. The construction of the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford reached a milestone.

But to experience the massive undertaking, hard hats were required.

Nothing says made in America like going to the Newport News Shipyard and hearing the people who build the boats bask in the glory of watching their work come together.

"It's a blast. I've been here 30 years. I worked on carriers the whole time,” says Jeff Lacy, a shipyard worker.

But this time, they're celebrating a major milestone in the modular construction of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

The skeleton of a ship will eventually be the Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).

Watching it come together is a sight to behold.

"You can always tell the first-timers; they walk around going ‘Wow,’ says Jeff.

Wow because of the precision that is required to lower the bow and connect it to the rest of the boat.

Many of the workers express feelings that sound very much like proud parents.

"I was here when they set the first piece, and here when they set the back piece. And now I’m here when they're setting the forward piece. I’ve been really involved; kind of makes me a little bit proud,” says Jason Ausmus, a shipyard worker.

Every trade imaginable has made this day possible from cleanup to pipe fitters to electricians.

This final keel section is more than 60 feet tall and is one of the heaviest superlifts to be placed on the ship.

"To see what actually happens, I think they'd be impressed. I mean you’re looking at over 900 metric tons here,” says Jeff. “It’s cool to see it come together.

The workers tell NewsChannel 3 they are slightly ahead of schedule and hope to have the carrier complete by the fall of next year.