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Navy League 2021: Ford provides US Navy lessons for other programmes

The growing costs and broken schedules the US Navy (USN) experienced in developing and building aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) have provided lessons for other ship programmes, said Admiral Michael Gilday, chief of naval operations.

“One is that when you lock in the design, you lock in the design,” Adm Gilday said on 20 July during a Navy League 2021 Sea-Air-Space exposition virtual online “prequel” discussion in advance of the actual exposition, which is scheduled to take place from 1 to 4 August in Maryland.

“One of the things you learned from the Ford programme was the importance of land-based testing on new systems before you introduce them to the fleet,” Adm Gilday added.

“The [Ford] ammunition elevators are an exceptional example of a painful process over the past four or five years,” he noted, referring to the issues in getting all of the carrier's Advanced Weapons Elevators (AWEs) to work properly.

“In the [20]21 budget, we already have money dedicated to land-based test sites for the [guided-missile] frigate so that we can perfect that technology before we deliver it to the ship,” he added.

“Lastly, taking a much more deliberate approach with respect to introducing new technologies to any platform. On the Gerald R Ford, we had 23 new technologies on that ship, which quite frankly increased the risk of delivery and cost – delivery on time and cost right from the get-go. I think industry's in full agreement within this: We really shouldn't introduce more than maybe one or two new technologies on any complex platform like that in order to make sure that we keep risk at a manageable level,” he said.

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