Pentagon notifies Congress of two-carrier buy, contract expected by end of January

US Navy photo of USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) underway in the Atlantic Ocean in August, 2017

The US Department of Defense has officially notified the Congress of its intention to buy two aircraft carriers at once in a move that is expected to bring some $4 billion in savings.

In a letter on December 31, the Pentagon formally informed the Congress about the block buy of two Ford-class aircraft carriers.

US Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, welcomed the announcement.

“This smart move will save taxpayer dollars and help ensure the shipyards can maintain a skilled workforce to get the job done. Newport News builds the finest carriers in the world, and I know they are ready to handle this increase in work as we make progress toward the Navy’s goal of a 355-ship fleet,” Kaine said.

Following the confirmation, the navy could award the official contract by the end of January, according to USNI News.

The announcement on December 31 follows a request for proposals from March 2018 in which the US Naval Sea Systems Command asked Huntington Ingalls Industries – Newport News Shipbuilding (HII-NNS), the sole builder of aircraft carriers in the US, to provide more details on potential cost savings with a two-ship buy of Ford-class carriers CVN 80 and CVN 81.

The two-ship buy is a contracting strategy the navy has used in the 1980s to procure Nimitz-class aircraft carriers and achieved acquisition cost savings compared to contracting for the ships individually.

Ford-class aircraft carriers are the first new US Navy aircraft carrier class in more than 40 years and will begin the phased replacement of Nimitz-class carriers. The Ford-class features a new nuclear power plant, a redesigned island, electromagnetic catapults, improved weapons movement, an enhanced flight deck capable of increased aircraft sortie rates.

Measuring 1,100 foot (335 meters) in length and displacing 100,000 tonnes, Ford-class ships will operate with a smaller crew than a Nimitz-class carrier.

USS Gerald R Ford, the lead ship in the class, is scheduled to reach operational capability in 2020.

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