Newport News Shipbuilding completes USS Gerald R. Ford flight deck

Posted at 11:50 AM, Apr 15, 2013

USS Gerald R. Ford CVN 78 Upper Bow Lift

The flight deck of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford is complete following the addition of the ship’s upper bow section at Newport News Shipbuilding, Huntington Ingalls Industries announced Monday.

The upper bow section extends the overall length of the carrier to its full size of 1,106 feet, which is equal to a 75-story building laying on its side.

The upper bow is comprised of 19 steel sections and weighs a total of 787 metric tons.

With this addition, the USS Gerald R. Ford is now 96 percent structurally complete. It has been under construction since 2009.

Gerald R. Ford is being built using modular construction, a process where smaller sections of the ship are welded together to form large structural units, equipment is installed, and the large units are lifted into the dry dock. The upper bow unit is the 475th unit erected out of 496 used to build the carrier.

It also is the 160th superlift to erect out of the 162 scheduled. It joins the lower bow section that was set into place on May 24, 2012, in the dry dock. The lifts are accomplished using the shipyard’s 1,050-metric ton gantry crane, one of the largest in the Western Hemisphere.

The USS Gerald R. Ford represents the next-generation class of aircraft carriers. The first-in-class ship features a new nuclear power plant, a redesigned island, electromagnetic catapults, improved weapons movement, an enhanced flight deck capable of increased aircraft sortie rates, growth margin for future technologies and $4 billion reduced total ownership cost compared to a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. The ship is scheduled to launch later this year.

Watch a time-lapse video of the addition of the ship’s upper bow section: