Huntington Ingalls Industries said Thursday that its Newport News Shipbuilding division reached a construction milestone by lowering the final keel section of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) into place. The 680-metric-ton lower bow unit was joined to the other keel sections in the dry dock.
“The lower bow is a distinctive component of an aircraft carrier,“ Rolf Bartschi, NNS’ vice president of CVN 78 carrier construction, said in a statement. “Its sheer size is indicative of the massive undertaking of this project … I congratulate the team on yet another major construction milestone.“
The Gerald R. Ford is being built through a system of modular construction. It relies on a process where smaller sections of the ship are welded together to form large structural units, outfitting is installed and the large unit is lifted into the dry dock. Of the nearly 500 total structural lifts needed to complete the ship, 390 have been accomplished.
Comprising six steel sections, the lower bow is more than 60 feet tall and is one of the heaviest super lifts to be placed on the ship.
Gerald R. Ford represents the next-generation class of aircraft carriers. The ship is on track to meet its scheduled launch in 2013 and delivery to the U.S. Navy in 2015.
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