Navy’s latest aircraft carrier cannot be deployed
by Michael Hansen, Hawaii Shippers Council, July 21, 2016
Bloomberg reported on July 19, 2016, in a news article, “Navy’s $12.9 Billion Carrier Isn’t Ready for Warfare, Memo Says,” that the U.S. Navy’s newest nuclear-powered supercarrier the USS GERALD R FORD (CVN-78) is far behind schedule, not ready for deployment, may need to be redesigned and additional delays are anticipated.
This is part of the continuing inability of the U.S. shipbuilding industry to deliver on schedule and on budget warships and other ships vital to the defense of the country and achieving a balanced budget.
The escalating cost of each individual ships limits the number of ships that the U.S. Navy can construct, and will keep the U.S. Navy from maintaining an adequate fleet.
The $12.9 billion USS Gerald R. Ford -- the most expensive warship ever built -- may struggle to launch and recover aircraft, mount a defense and move munitions, according to the Pentagon’s top weapons tester. On-board systems for those tasks have poor or unknown reliability issues, according to a June 28 memo obtained by Bloomberg News.
“These four systems affect major areas of flight operations,” Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department’s director of operational test and evaluation, wrote Pentagon and Navy weapons buyers Frank Kendall and Sean Stackley. “Unless these issues are resolved, which would likely require redesigning” of the aircraft launch and recovery systems “they will significantly limit the CVN-78’s ability to conduct combat operations,” Gilmore wrote, using a technical name for the carrier.
The service has operated 10 carriers since the retirement of the USS Enterprise in 2012. Extended deployments of the remaining ships have placed stress on crews and meant added strain meeting global commitments from the battle against Islamic State to ensuring freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, home to $5 trillion in annual trade.
As delivery of the Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. vessel approaches, “my concerns about the reliability of these systems remain and the risk to the ship’s ability to succeed in combat grows as these reliability issues remain unresolved,” Gilmore said.
Republican Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the Navy’s announcement of additional delays last week “unacceptable,” adding that it was a “case study in why our acquisition system must be reformed.”
The Navy plans to deploy the Ford by 2021 for worldwide operations after a series of maintenance and training exercises and completion of full ship-shock trials by fiscal 2018, so there is time to correct deficiencies before potential combat operations.
The reliability of Raytheon Co.’s dual-band radar used for air-traffic control and self-defense against aircraft and missiles “is unknown.” Land testing of the system is using software still under development and some hardware reliability issues have surfaced, he said.
Navy’s $12.9 Billion Carrier Isn’t Ready for Warfare, Memo Says