The Ford is the first all-new carrier design in 40 years — since the USS Nimitz was commissioned in 1975 — and many of its new technologies turned out to be not quite ready for action, leading to schedule slips and cost overruns. But alongside the electromagnetic launch catapults and high-tech arrestor gear, the ship also suffered problems with its relatively mundane turbine generators. Now, however, the Navy says testing is 93 percent complete, work on the ship overall is 99 percent done, and the service has enough confidence to set a schedule again: shipbuilders' trials in March, then Navy acceptance trials in April with delivery later that month — assuming the trials go okay.
Here's the full statement from long-suffering Navy spokesperson Capt. Thurraya Kent, which we received at 5:20 pm Wednesday:
"GERALD R. FORD (CVN 78) is 99 percent overall complete with 93 percent of the test program complete (93 percent Hull, Mechanical & Electrical, 92 percent propulsion testing, and 93 percent electronics testing). Over the past few months, we have made significant progress resolving first-of-class issues associated with these critical systems and have resumed critical path testing in support of Builder's Sea Trials. This progress enables us to forecast our sea trials and delivery schedule. Specifically, we have updated the ship's schedule to reflect Builder's Sea Trials in March 2017, Acceptance Trials in April 2017, and Delivery in April 2017, pending the results of sea trials."