Propulsion Plant Work Complete on Aircraft Carrier Ford

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In this Saturday, April 8, 2017 file photo provided by the U.S. Navy, the USS Gerald R. Ford embarks on the first of its sea trials to test various state-of-the-art systems on its own power for the first time, from Newport News, Va. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ridge Leoni/U.S. Navy via AP)
In this Saturday, April 8, 2017 file photo provided by the U.S. Navy, the USS Gerald R. Ford embarks on the first of its sea trials to test various state-of-the-art systems on its own power for the first time, from Newport News, Va. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ridge Leoni/U.S. Navy via AP)

Newport News shipbuilders and sailors have fixed problems with the propulsion plant on the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford, bringing the ship a step closer to returning to sea.

Work was completed July 22, ending more than a year of maintenance and repairs, according to a Navy news release.

Propulsion system problems first were spotted during sea trials in January 2018. A manufacturing defect was deemed to be the cause.

In May, the crew dealt with another propulsion plant issue "associated with a design modification" and the ship returned to Naval Station Norfolk, the news release stated.

RelatedFaulty Nuclear Propulsion and Elevators Further Delay USS Ford's Delivery

The ship returned to sea later in May. After successfully completing all required at-sea tests, the Navy and Newport News Shipbuilding determined how to correct the manufacturing defects during post-shakedown work at the shipyard.

The Ford entered the yard last year and remains there now.

The propulsion problems weren't with the nuclear reactors, but with other mechanical components. It took 400,000 employee hours of maintenance and production to complete the work, the Navy said.

Crew members who work in the Ford's reactor department are already shifting their focus to preventive maintenance, said Lt. Cmdr. Deron Spencer, the ship's reactor maintenance officer.

The first-in-class ship is packed with new technology, which has caused delays and cost overruns throughout its development and construction. Ford joined the fleet in 2017, but more work remains before it is ready for combat.

Navy leaders say they're making progress with two key systems: the catapults and arresting gear that allow aircraft to launch and land on the flight deck.

Work continues on the advanced weapons elevators, which transport ordnance up from the lower decks. The Navy has brought in a team of outside experts to get all 11 elevators working to its satisfaction.

However, the Ford will likely leave the yard later this year without achieving that goal.

This article is written by Hugh Lessig from Daily Press (Newport News, Va.) and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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