The Navy’s USS Gerald R. Ford is set to deploy next year, four years after its original maiden deployment date.
The aircraft carrier, the lead ship in the new Ford class, is in the middle of its last maintenance phase ahead of deployment following a series of delays, including those stemming from new technologies.
“Everything is on track,” Rear Adm. Gregory Huffman, the commander of Carrier Strike Group 12 who will lead the carrier on its first deployment, told USNI News. “We’re still looking to get out as scheduled after the six-month availability.”
“No big show-stoppers that they’ve come across at all,” he added. “So very, very positive news coming from the captain and from the shipyard. And then as we come out of that, I think we’re going to be set very well to get back in that operational mindset and get ready for the deployment.”
It’s unclear exactly when the ship will deploy next year.
Problems with the carrier’s nuclear power plant, the advanced new Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, and its Advanced Arresting Gear have all contributed to the delays that have plagued the ship.
Many of the issues that have postponed the carrier’s deployment have been improved or solved outright.
The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group commander and his staff went aboard the ship during the 18-month post-delivery test and trial period, which is not common.
“It gives us a leg up really in those fundamental sort of blocking and tackling things so that when we do get back out onboard, we’re going to be that much further ahead,” Huffman explained. “We know what the communication pathways are. We know what the systems are. People know the basics on where they’re going to sleep and where they’re going to work and those type of things. So we’re not going to be starting from scratch on that.”
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Original Author: Mike Brest