Shipbuilders in Virginia reached a major milestone in the construction of the nation's newest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier on Thursday after lowering the massive lower bow into place in what will become the USS Gerald R. Ford.
The aircraft carrier will be the nation's 11th in service once it is delivered to the Navy in 2015. It will replace the USS Enterprise, which is currently on its last scheduled deployment.
The new carrier will feature a redesigned command center, electromagnetic catapults and an enhanced flight deck to get more warplanes in the air faster. It's also been designed to require 800 fewer sailors to operate the ship and 400 fewer personnel to embark with an air wing on the ship.
The final keel section is more than 60 feet tall and weighs more than 680 tons. It was hoisted into dry dock by a crane that suspended it in the air with about a dozen thick cables as it slid it into place so it can be welded together with other parts of the ship.
"From here on we erect the ship in large chunks like this," said Geoff Hummel, a Newport News Shipbuilding construction manager. "It goes relatively fast."
The placement of the lower bow completes the length of the 1,092-foot aircraft carrier. The ship's tower is expected to be put in place in November.
"The lower bow is a distinctive component of an aircraft carrier," said Rolf Bartschi, NNS' vice president of CVN 78 carrier construction. "Its sheer size is indicative of the massive undertaking of this project and the incredible work ethic of the shipbuilders bringing Ford to life. I congratulate the team on yet another major construction milestone."
very nice...!! great work.... I wish i were involved in these R&D works.