Ford completes PIA, prepares for first deployment

By Aidan Quigley / March 1, 2022 at 10:54 AM

The first-in-class aircraft carrier Gerald Ford (CVN-78) has completed its first planned incremental availability and is preparing for its first deployment later this year, the Navy announced Tuesday.

The ship arrived at Naval Station Norfolk Friday following the six-month-long planned incremental availability, which featured modernization and maintenance work at Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding, the Navy said in its press release.

The Ford will deploy for the first time by fall, Rear Adm. James Downey, the program executive officer for aircraft carriers, told reporters in January.

The Ford’s crew will train and certify in coming months to prepare for the deployment, the Navy’s press release stated.

“The ship will embark its air wing, CVW-8, and will begin rounds of system qualification tests, flight deck certification, three phases of air warfare training, and a Combat Systems Operational Readiness Evaluation,” the Navy said.

Director of Operational Test and Evaluation Nickolas Guertin wrote in his fiscal year 2021 annual report that DOT&E identified several design shortfalls during the Ford’s full-ship shock trials and stated concerns about the underperformance of several key systems.

However, the Navy stated the Ford needed fewer repairs from full-ship shock trials than anticipated.

Downey said in the press release that the Ford required only 20% of the repair work that the last carrier to go through full-ship shock trials, the Nimitz-class Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), had to in 1987.

Of the full-ship shock trials-related repairs, 85% were able to be completed by the ship’s crew as opposed to the shipyard, Downey said.