In his briefing, Capt. Metcalf announced that the first ship of its class, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) achieved initial operational capability (IOC) in December 2021. He added that IOC was achieved at that time because all advanced weapons elevators were qualified.
Advanced Weapons Elevators on this first-of-class aircraft carrier operate using several advanced technologies including electromagnetic motors vice more labor-intensive, hydraulic systems. The advanced technology enables fewer sailors to safely move ordnance from weapons magazines to the flight deck with unparalleled speed and agility.
“All 11 of the advanced weapons elevators have been turned over to the crew. The crew is operating those elevators. They’re gaining proficiency for the deployment. Over 17 000 individual elevator cycles have been performed by the crew, include in port and at sea, with weights, in different sea states.”
Capt. Brian Metcalf, CVN 78 program manager
He stated that the ship will carry out overseas deployment in early fall, but didn’t give information about the operation zone and its duration.
Capt. Metcalf also indicated that %85 of John F. Kennedy (CVN 78) is completed, and the program is on track to deliver in 2024. He also mentioned that Enterprise (CVN 80) is %50 complete, the keel will be laid soon, and will be delivered in 2028. The first steel of Doris Miller (CVN 81) was cut in August 2021, and its delivery is scheduled for 2032.
Video – Capt. Brian Metcalf, CVN 78 program manager, briefing during Sea Air Space 2022:
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is the lead ship in the Ford-class of aircraft carrier, the first new class in more than 40 years, and will begin the phased replacement of Nimitz-class carriers.
The USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is a first-in-class aircraft carrier, and the first new aircraft carrier designed in over 40 years. The Sailors who serve aboard Ford are tasked with ensuring the ship is able to execute national tasking for decades to come.
Although it appears similar to a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, there are many features that make Ford unique. First-in-class technology includes a new nuclear plant, the ability to generate nearly three times the amount of electrical power, innovative advanced arresting gear and the electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS).
EMALS replaces the steam catapult system traditionally used to launch aircraft and will expand the aircraft launch envelope, paving the way for innovations in manned/unmanned aircraft as well as providing the opportunity for other technological advancements in the future.