Nine days after christening the US Navy’s newest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding launched John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) into the James River for the first time, on December 16.
With the aid of six tugboats, Kennedy was guided down the river about a mile from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Dry Dock 12, where it has been under construction, to the shipyard’s Pier 3, the shipbuilder said.
There, the newbuild will undergo additional outfitting and begin its testing program three months ahead of its original schedule.
“This move is significant in that it represents a shift in focus from erecting the ship in dock to final completion and outfitting at the pier,” said Mike Butler, program director for Kennedy.
During this phase of construction, which is expected to take about two and a half years, habitability spaces, such as berthing and mess areas, will be completed, and distributive, mechanical and combat systems, such as catapults and radar arrays, will be tested.
Kennedy is scheduled for delivery to the US Navy in 2022.
CVN 79 is the second ship in the new class of Gerald R. Ford-class of carriers. The lead ship, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), was commissioned in July 2017 as the US Navy’s most expensive ship ever built.