It’s an aircraft carrier. Who cares if it can’t launch planes or arm them?
It’s another setback for contractor Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. — and for the Navy, which had said in December it planned to complete installation and testing of all 11 elevators before the Ford completed its post-delivery shakedown phase this month, with at least half certified for operation.
Instead, the shakedown phase has been extended to October and the vessel won’t have all the elevators installed — much less functioning — by then, according to Luria, a 20-year Navy surface warfare officer whose served on two aircraft carriers and as shore maintenance coordinator for a third.
“Essentially, the ship can’t deploy,” Luria said. “It can’t carry ammunition.” She said the Navy and Huntington Ingalls are trying to solve new problems with doors and hatches lining elevators shafts that don’t meet specifications.
Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, who’s currently filling in as acting deputy defense secretary, said in January that he told President Donald Trump to fire him if the service couldn’t fix the weapons elevators by July. Instead, Trump praised the Ford as “phenomenal” on July 22.
The Ford’s Advanced Weapons Elevators are designed for the carrier’s crew to move as much as 24,000 pounds of ordnance at 150 feet-per-minute, up from the 10,500 pounds at 100 feet-per-minute on the older Nimitz-class carrier. That would increase by more than 30% the number of combat sorties that could launch from the carrier over 24 hours, according to the Navy.
The elevators aren’t the only issue plaguing the ship, which has had problems with two other core systems — the electromagnetic system to launch planes and the arresting gear to catch them when they land.
Does it even have engines and a rudder?