The Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier will be launched in November as opposed to July as was originally set in a contract between the Navy and Newport News Shipbuilding, a Navy official said.
"We have agreed to push back the launch of CVN 78 (the Ford's hull number) from July to November," said Christopher Johnson, a spokesman with Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, D.C.
Johnson explained that the Navy viewed the July deadline as an ambitious one for some time.
"We knew a couple years ago there was going to be some schedule pressure, and we probably would not meet the date, but we would work to try to make up that time," Johnson said.
"We still need some more time to get the outfitting done to get the ship in the water," he added.
Johnson said the challenges of developing and building new technologies and adapting brand new construction processes for the Ford have challenged shipbuilders and the Navy, in terms of the schedule.
Since 2008, the Ford's price has increased by $1.8 billion -- from $10.5 billion to $12.3 billion -- according to Navy budget submissions. The project is the first in a new class of carriers and a major source of revenue for the shipyard and its parent company, Huntington Ingalls Industries.
Johnson said there's no cost increase associated with the moving back of the launch date.
And shipyard spokeswoman, Beci Brenton, said pushing the launch date back is the most cost-effective option for the Navy and the company.
"(T)he revised launch date allows increased outfitting and ship construction that are most economically done prior to ship launch," Brenton said in a prepared statement.
She added that there were unique challenges associated with the building of the Ford, which began construction before it was fully designed.
"For this first-of-class ship, construction commenced in parallel with design completion based on earlier decisions at Dept. of Defense," Brenton said. "Ongoing design during the construction process caused delay and inefficiencies in procurement, manufacturing, and assembly."
The launch delay means the shipyard will push back the associated event celebrating the Ford's completion, the christening. In the past, carrier christenings have drawn top national political figures, including U.S. presidents.
Though construction on the Ford hasn't moved as fast as the original contract schedule, the shipyard has, nevertheless, made steady progress on its structure. Shipbuilders on Tuesday plan to complete the ship's hull when crane operators hoist into place the forward end of a catapult.
The shipyard also received $60.8 million as part of a pre-construction contract for the John F. Kennedy, the second carrier in the Ford class.The Navy announced Monday it has modified its contract with the shipyard that covers the purchase of services and material in preparation for the building of the Kennedy.