Video: USS John F. Kennedy carrier continues taking shape with new superlift

U.S. Navy aircraft carrier builder Huntington Ingalls Industries shared a video of its Newport News Shipbuilding division placing a 900-ton superlift into dry dock, continuing construction of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN 79).

The company said Kennedy’s cost and construction schedule were on track with significant improvement over its predecessor, the first-of-class Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).

Like Ford, Kennedy is being built using modular construction, a process where smaller sections of the ship are welded together to form larger structural units (called “superlifts”). Equipment is then installed, and the large superlifts are lifted into the dry dock using the company’s 1,050-metric ton gantry crane.

According to HII, Kennedy is on track to be completed with 445 lifts, which is 51 fewer than Ford and 149 less than USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), the last Nimitz-class carrier. “Fewer lifts to the dock means we’re building larger superlifts with more outfitting installed prior to erecting the sections in dock,” said Mike Butler, Newport News’ Kennedy construction program director. “This translates to man-hour savings because the work is being accomplished off the ship in a more efficient work environment.”

Close to 90 lifts have been placed in the dock and joined together since the ship’s keel was laid in August 2015. Kennedy is scheduled to be launched in 2020 and delivered to the Navy in 2022, when it will replace USS Nimitz (CVN 68).

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