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Automated systems helped speed carrier Ford recovery after shock trials

The design of aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78), with the inclusion of greater autonomous systems compared with previous carrier classes, led to quicker overall recovery of ship systems during the ship's recent shock trials, according to US Navy (USN) officials and personnel involved with the testing.

Ford successfully conducted its third of three explosive events off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, on 8 August. It marked the completion of the ship's Full Ship Shock Trials, which validate a ship's shock hardness and ability to sustain operations in a simulated combat environment using live ordnance.

“The navy designed the Ford-class carrier using advanced computer modelling methods, testing, and analysis to ensure the ships are hardened to withstand harsh battle conditions,” Captain Brian Metcalf, manager for the navy's future aircraft carrier programme office, noted in a statement released shortly after the last shock test.

“As far as reliability, the great thing about the automation brought to us, compared to the Nimitz-class [carriers], is that the amount of time it takes you to restore [ship systems] is much faster,” Commander Homer Hensy, Ford chief engineer, told Janes on 13 August during a ship-to-shore interview.

“Removing the human factor required when people need to go to spaces and look for damage” is significant, he said. “The DCA [damage control assistant] has automated controls at her fingertips to investigate damage remotely and realign systems as required.”

Commander Tabitha Edwards, Ford DCA, agreed. The blast created an immediate light flicker aboard the ship, she told Janes during the ship-to-shore interview. However, the interruption was “very short” and she was back online quickly; she also had the ability to check alarms and other automated systems quickly.

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