Trump takes is­sue with cost over­run of new air­craft car­rier

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - BY BEN FIN­LEY

NOR­FOLK, VA. | The first of a new class of air­craft car­ri­ers has been of­fi­cially de­liv­ered to the Navy af­ter more than a year of de­lays, cost over­runs and tech­no­log­i­cal glitches that drew crit­i­cism from Pres­i­dent Trump.

The Navy said last week that the USS Ger­ald R. Ford now will go through var­i­ous workups at sea be­fore be­com­ing op­er­a­tional in 2020. The Navy plans to build at least two more Ford-Class car­ri­ers, ac­cord­ing to the Con­gres­sional Re­search Ser­vice.

The Navy says the tech­no­log­i­cally su­pe­rior Ford can carry more planes and op­er­ate with sev­eral hun­dred fewer sailors. A new elec­tro­mag­netic sys­tem for launch­ing air­craft will help to in­crease fly­ing mis­sions by a third.

But the de­liv­ery of the new car­rier by New­port News Ship­build­ing in Vir­ginia fol­lows Mr. Trump’s com­plaints about the ship’s new cat­a­pult launch sys­tem, which uses pre­vi­ously untested tech­nol­ogy.

The pres­i­dent told Time magazine last month that the Navy should go back to us­ing steam cat­a­pults be­cause the new sys­tem “costs hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars more money and it’s no good.”

Navy Lt. Kara Yin­gling, a spokes­woman at the Pen­tagon, told The As­so­ci­ated Press that the Navy has no com­ment re­gard­ing Mr. Trump’s state­ments.

Act­ing Navy Sec­re­tary Sean Stack­ley told the U.S. Naval In­sti­tute News: “We have not briefed the pres­i­dent on the Ford pro­gram. He did go down to New­port News and vis­ited the ship, was on­board the ship. And [since] I wasn’t present for that visit, I don’t know what his source of in­for­ma­tion was.”

The cat­a­pult ini­tially failed dur­ing a de­mon­stra­tion in 2015, ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports. Test­ing also showed that the cat­a­pult put too much stress on planes car­ry­ing the ex­tra weight of ex­ter­nal fuel tanks, ac­cord­ing to a Depart­ment of De­fense re­port.

The Navy’s press re­lease an­nounc­ing the ship’s de­liv­ery stated that “any de­fi­cien­cies iden­ti­fied dur­ing tri­als will be ad­dressed” when the Ford is in port.

Navy spokesman Wil­liam Couch told the AP he couldn’t com­ment on the sta­tus of the ship’s op­er­at­ing sys­tems.

“Right now we’re in that pe­riod where the ship is no longer un­der con­struc­tion,” he said. “This is where the ship be­gins on the path to be­com­ing an op­er­a­tional unit.”

Much of the de­lays and cost over­runs have been at­trib­uted to the Ford’s in­cor­po­ra­tion of sev­eral new sys­tems at once.

They in­clude the new cat­a­pult sys­tem as well as new tech­nol­ogy for land­ing planes, which has also had prob­lems.

Con­struc­tion of the Ford was sup­posed to fin­ish by Septem­ber 2015. The $12.9 bil­lion ship was ini­tially sup­posed to cost $10.5 bil­lion.

Christie Miller, a spokes­woman for ship­yard-owner Hunt­ing­ton In­galls In­dus­tries, said it’s al­ready build­ing the sec­ond Ford-class car­rier, the John F. Kennedy. The ship­yard also has re­ceived an ad­vanced plan­ning con­tract for a third car­rier, the USS En­ter­prise.


The USS Ger­ald R. Ford has been of­fi­cially de­liv­ered to the U.S. Navy, and is ex­pected to be­come op­er­a­tional in 2020 af­ter var­i­ous workups at sea. Pres­i­dent Trump pub­licly be­moaned that the cost bal­looned from an ini­tial $10.5 bil­lion to $12.9 bil­lion.

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