Monday, October 5, 2020

U.S. Navy’s largest shipbuilder prepares for christening of newest aircraft carrier

The U.S. Navy’s largest shipbuilder, Huntington Ingalls, said on Tuesday that it began flooding the dry dock at its Newport News Shipbuilding division where the keel of aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) was laid in 2015.

The controlled process of slowly filling the dry dock with more than 100 million gallons of water takes place over several days, and marks the first time the ship has been in water.

The flooding of the dry dock is truly a historic event in the construction of the ship and a special moment for the men and women who have worked to get the ship to the point,” said Mike Butler, program director for Kennedy. “We have made remarkable progress with Kennedy’s construction, and are pleased to get to this phase of construction three months ahead of the original schedule and fewer man hours. We look forward to the upcoming christening and launch as we prepare to start our testing program.”

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The flooding of the dry dock takes place in phases during which various tests are conducted. The dock initially was flooded about 10 feet high to its keel blocks, wood-capped concrete pads on which the ship has been supported during construction. Once the dock is fully flooded and initial testing is complete, the ship will be floated to the west end of the dry dock. Next month, additional tests will take place prior to Kennedy’s christening on Dec. 7.

The launching of CVN 79 is approximately 3-months early to the original schedule. Several milestones have been completed leading up to the dry dock flooding, including laying of the ship’s keel on Aug. 22, 2015, and placement of the 588-metric ton island superstructure on May 29, 2019.

Capt. Todd Marzano, Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) John F. Kennedy’s commanding officer and crew participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony Oct. 1 to officially establishing the ship’s crew and designate the building where Sailors will work during the ship’s construction.

Ensign Cheyenne Scarbrough, a PCU John F. Kennedy crewmember from San Francisco, brings a plethora of skillsets and experience to include the honor of being a double plank owner.

“Being assigned to the future John F. Kennedy allows me another chance to start from ground zero, streamline processes, and bring the ship to life,” said Scarbrough, who has served 17 years in the Navy, and received her naval commission in March 2019. Scarbrough has previously served on USS Enterprise (CVN 65), USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), and USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).

While Scarbrough brings experience on both Nimitz and Ford-classes of aircraft carriers, Senior Chief Logistics Specialist David Adkins, brings his experience serving on board the first USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67).

“I embarked on board USS John F. Kennedy while assigned to VFA-81 in 2004,” said Adkins, an 18-year veteran from Jacksonville, Florida. “For me being part of ship’s company now is definitely a point in my career where I have gone full circle.”

Marzano, who served on board USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) while undergoing maintenance at Newport News Shipbuilding during the same time the keel of the future John F. Kennedy was laid, emphasized his perspective in leading his crew throughout the ship’s construction.

“CVN 79 has come a long ways since I first observed initial construction in the dry dock back in 2015 following the keel laying,” said Marzano. “At that point I had no idea I’d be fortunate enough to be the ship’s first commanding officer and I’m incredibly honored, humbled, and excited to be given the opportunity to lead such an amazing team of high quality crewmembers.”

More than 3,200 shipbuilders and 2,000 suppliers from across the country are supporting the construction of Kennedy. Following the christening, Kennedy will undock into the James River where outfitting and testing of the ship’s systems will continue until the ship is delivered to the U.S. Navy in 2022.

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Executive Editor

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