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HII CEO: Best way to get carrier Ford ready is to operate it at sea

As the US Navy (USN) works through weapons elevators issues and other post-maintenance bugs on the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), the best way for the service to prepare the ship for operational fleet introduction would be get some sea time under its keel, according to Michael Petters, CEO for carrier shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII).

“There comes a point in time in these ships, where it becomes important for the navy to begin to operate,” Petters told investment analysts on 7 November during a quarterly conference call to discuss the shipbuilder’s financial performance.

“If you think of the aircraft carrier as a city of 5,000 people with all of the functions that go on in the city, including its own airport, there comes a point in time where the city has to operate even if there are things that still need to be done,” Petters noted. “And so that’s how you get to a delivery of the ship to let the navy go operate it.”

        Aircraft carrier USS 
        Gerald R. Ford
         got underway October 25.
       (US Navy)

Aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford got underway October 25. (US Navy)

Those operations will reveal or underscore any additional issues that need to be addressed.

“The normal track for the delivery of a ship is the ship will deliver, the navy will go operate it for a while,” Petters explained. “It will come back to the shipyard for a post-shakedown availability.”

It’s a bit more challenging for a new-class ship featuring advanced systems, he pointed out. “In the case of a lead ship, especially the case of the Ford

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