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A few days after the first aircraft carrier of its class USS Gerald R. Ford sailed out of a “difficult” post-shakedown shift that was extended by three months due to maintenance issues, the dry dock housing the second Ford-class carrier, the USS John F. Kennedy, was flooded, launching the carrier three months earlier.
the Kennedy the builders and the crew benefited from a boost Ford, according to the ship’s captain, Captain Todd Marzano.
“We certainly benefit from being the second aircraft carrier in the category,” Marzano told Business Insider last week. “We are building on their lessons learned, which has helped not only on the construction side but also our training as a sailor.”
Capt. Todd Marzano, Commander of Kennedy.
(US Navy photo by MCS3 Class Adam Ferrero)
A graduate of the Naval Fighter Weapons School, or Top Gun, Marzano sailed to sea aboard Kitty Hawk, Nimitz and Ford-class aircraft carriers, serving as a fighter squadron commander as well as an executive officer and gate commander. -planes itself.
During a ceremony in May, Marzano recalled having spent the Ford as construction started at the end of 2015 and thinking that “a lucky captain” would be his first skipper. In a mast-setting ceremony after that speech, he put his first set of gold aviator wings under the 650-ton island as it was lowered onto the flight deck.
It “meant my commitment as the ship’s captain to make sure … that I’m going to make sure the crew are ready to do their jobs and keep the ship running when we take it to sea,” said Marzano. “So that meant a lot to me. This is definitely a peak tour in my career.
(US Navy photo by MCS3 Class Adam Ferrero)
Marzano took command of the Kennedy, designated CVN-79, on October 1, during a ceremony attended by the carrier’s first 43 sailors, who were hand picked for the mission.
“We officially took command on October 1, and to date we have just over 150 crew on board, and that number continues to grow every day,” Marzano said on November 19, 2019. We have shown it was about creating a solid foundation, which means getting our programs, our procedures established. We also focus on a lot of training and most importantly on developing a healthy culture at all levels of command.
Marzano added that “some of the sailors on the Ford have now been transferred to our ship, so that we can benefit from their knowledge… acquired during their tour.
Ford-class carriers – the Ford, the Kennedy, the Business, and the unnamed CVN-81 – are or will be equipped with new technology that the Navy says will keep them efficient for decades to come. the Ford The early sailors, with months or even years of hands-on experience with this technology, were creating “basically instructions on how to operate this ship with its systems and new design,” as one sailor put it.
“Now we’re going to take advantage of them, and they can help train our new sailors,” said Marzano.
Kennedy Island is placed on the flight deck during a mast-setting ceremony in Newport News, Va., May 29, 2019.
In addition to modifying or excluding certain features, the Navy and the carrier’s manufacturer, Huntington Ingalls Industries, have made changes to the Kennedy develop a strategy to control costs and stay on schedule.
the Ford was under construction as it was designed, according to Mike Butler, Huntington Ingalls’ program manager for the Kennedy. But the Kennedy had a complete model, saving time.
“Every piece of pipe, every cable, every other piece of equipment was loaded into a three-dimensional product model, which allowed us, for example, to [to do] holes, where you have a bulkhead or deck and you have to drill a hole in it for a pipe or electrical cable to pass through, ”Butler told Business Insider on Nov. 29, 2019.
On the Nimitz-class carriers, “before the product model,” said Butler, “we probably cut 75% of these holes on the vessel once we ran the pipe and saw where it went through the bulkhead. . “
There were “a lot less” cuts on the ship on the Ford because of the product model, Butler said. But on the Kennedy, “With the full product model, I pretty much cut 100% of all those hole cuts in the vessel.”
“While the shop was still making the deck plates and bulkhead panels, they could go in and robotically locate and cut out all of those holes in these structural elements while they were still in the shop environment. which is a big deal as there are probably closures. 100,000 holes that go through decks and bulkheads that need to be cut, ”Butler added.
The Kennedy’s upper bow unit mounted on the ship’s main structure on July 10, 2019.
(US Navy / Huntington Ingalls Industries / Matt Hildreth)
The design and planning documents for the Kennedy have been updated as the work Ford. But the biggest change was in the way the Ford Second Class Carrier was put together, Butler said.
Approximately 1,100 structural boxes are built to assemble the bracket, each equipped with components such as wiring. These boxes are grouped into larger sections called super elevators, which are further equipped. The transporter is then assembled from these super elevators – “kind of like a Lego building,” Butler said.
On the Kennedy“Particularly at the start of the program, we did a lot more outfitting,” said Butler. “We built larger boxes in our steel fabrication division. We brought them to our final assembly plant. We built some great elevators bigger than we did on [the Ford] in some areas, and we’ve put more outfitters at many of these great lifts, especially early in the program.
“So we ended up with fewer elevators in the dock and a lot of cases of bigger super elevators that had more equipment… which also cuts your costs,” Butler added.
“We aggressively research the lessons learned and then apply them to the Kennedy, and we are already seeing benefits. The construction progress has gone much more efficiently, ”said Marzano. “So, both in terms of construction and the level of knowledge of the sailors, it is bearing fruit. Being second in the class is certainly easier in this regard. “
Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer is briefed by USS Gerald R. Ford’s commanding officer Jan. 17, 2018.
(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 2nd Class Kiana A. Raines)
the Ford The marquee’s features were among the most troublesome, especially the advanced weapon lifts, drawing Congressional attention and the wrath of former Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer, who excoriated Huntington Ingalls, claiming last month that the shipbuilder had “no idea” what he was doing.
These electromagnetic elevators are supposed to transport more ammunition faster – up to 24,000 pounds at 150 feet per minute above the 10,500 pounds of Nimitz-class elevators at 100 feet per minute – from storage magazines deep in the hull. But only four of the Ford 11 elevators were certified and handed over to the crew.
These new elevators have new electrical and mechanical technology and are “much more complex than traditional weapon elevators,” with “much tighter tolerances because of it,” Butler said.
Work on the Kennedy ‘s elevators were delayed to incorporate lessons from the Ford, Butler added.
“A lot of the areas where they had issues that they had to resolve, we were able to retain them, fix those issues, change the design, change the working papers,” Butler said. . “This now allows us to do this job the first time with lessons already learned.”
On January 16, 2019, Sailors review safety procedures for the Advanced Level 1 Advanced Weapons Lift in Ford’s Weapons Department.
Those breaks did not affect work on the hull and parts of the ship exposed to seawater, allowing her to launch earlier than expected in October 2019, Butler said.
In addition to being ahead of schedule, the Kennedy was also 5% more complete than the Ford at the time of its launch, according to James Geurts, the Navy’s chief procurement officer.
Like the Marzano crew, Butler’s team also benefited from an influx of personnel from the Ford.
Butler said that “solve all these technical problems” on the Ford, they had “developed a set of industry experts at the shipyard, and our design, manufacture, build and test of these elevators.”
“Now that the team of experts are starting to migrate to my ship, bringing these people and these lessons learned, working with my team,” Butler added, “so that we have people on deck who have gone through these elevators, helping us modify our construction plan to improve this process. “
Butler declined to comment on Spencer’s criticism, saying he was “laser-focused” Kennedy.
“The morale is great. We know we’ve solved a lot of top-notch problems, ”Butler added. “We are making this ship cheaper; we are building the ship faster. And for us, it shows that improving from first to second in class is exactly what we thought it would be. “
This article was originally published on Business intern. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.