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Navy’s Latest Aircraft Carrier Will Need $780 Million And Years Of Work To Be Sea Ready

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The future aircraft carrier named for former President Gerald R. Ford will need years of work and potentially $780 million to be ready for deployment, even though the ship has been delivered to the Navy.

Shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls delivered the $12.9 billion aircraft carrier, known as CVN-78, to the Navy in May “with a significant amount of outstanding construction, tests, and [sea] trials,” according to a Government Accountability Office report released Thursday.

The Gerald R. Ford “will not be ready for deployment until fiscal year 2021 at the earliest, even though the Navy accepted delivery of the ship in May 2017 and plans to provide it to the fleet in fiscal year 2019,” the report said.

The carrier is not the only ship that needs extensive work after the ship is delivered to the Navy. The GAO reviewed eight ships that the Navy has received into the Navy, or in the process of being commissioned. Each ship enters a two-year period after delivery from the manufacturer to undergo ocean trials, test the systems, and receive operational certifications.

All of the ships were initially delivered to the Navy with deficiencies, some of which “would significantly degrade the ability the ability to perform a mission,” Michele Mackin, the GAO’s managing director for acquisition and sourcing management research, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

In looking at the ships delivered to the Navy from shipbuilders, the GAO questioned whether the Navy’s policies — which require a ship be “defect-free and mission capable” when it’s first turned over the the Navy. “That isn’t happening,” Mackin said.

“Once we delved into the ships in our review and peeled the onion back and looked at the number of casualties and defects that were there at delivery, we realized the policy was not realistic,” Mackin said. The Navy routinely waives its own policy to accept ships that are defect-free.

In the case of the Gerald R. Ford, the first ship in its class, there are a lot of new technologies that need to be worked out, and it’s simply easier to do that under the Navy’s direct supervision rather than under the purview of the shipbuilder.

The practice of waiving deficiencies and contracting with the shipbuilder later could come at a cost to taxpayers. Mechanical problems that remain when the ship is delivered to the Navy are supposed to be covered by the shipbuilder, but that doesn’t always happen. “While the Navy contracts with the shipbuilder to correct deficiencies,” GAO wrote in a 2016 study, “the Navy has paid for the vast majority of these corrections for the ships in our review.”

President Donald Trump toured the Ford in a visit in March, promising to build more aircraft carriers to provide the “twelve-carrier Navy we need,” Bloomberg News reported. Standing on the Ford’s vast deck feels “like you’re standing on a very big piece of land,” Trump said.

TheDCNF reached out for comment from Huntington Ingalls, but received none at time of publication.

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