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US Navy disputes Pentagon report of carrier Ford design ‘shortfalls'

The US Navy says no design shortfalls have yet been identified in analysis of USS Gerald R Ford shock trials testing data. (US Navy)

The US Navy (USN) is disputing a Pentagon test report finding of potential design issues with aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78).

The Ford Full Ship Shock Trial (FSST) results “identified several design shortfalls”, the Pentagon Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) reported on 27 January.

The shortfalls were “not previously discovered by modelling and simulation (M&S) or component-level testing,” the DOT&E said in its annual report of select US defence programmes.

“If addressed, [the shortfalls] could improve the survivability of the CVN 78 against underwater threat engagements,” the report added.

Acknowledging that preliminary ‘quicklook' FSST results are still under navy review, Captain Clayton Doss, navy spokesman for the assistant secretary of the navy Research, Development and Acquisition office, told Janes, “We can state that, to date, there have been no design shortfalls identified.”

Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), whose Newport News Shipbuilding yard constructs USN aircraft carriers, including Ford, deferred to the USN for comment.

As noted by the DOT&E, the navy completed FSSTs from June to August 2021 to assess CVN 78's combat shock survivability.

“The trial was adequate to evaluate the ship's operational survivability after exposure to an underwater threat-induced shock,” DOT&E reported. “The trial consisted of a series of three nearby underwater explosions of increasing severity up to two-thirds of the design level requirement/specification. The ship was manned and operational during each shot. Testing included a demonstration of the ship's ability to continue its primary missions after shock.”

Shipboard sailors told Janes

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