WATCH: 900-Ton Ford Class Superlift at Newport News Shipbuilding

John F. Kennedy CVN 79 Super Lift. Photo credit: Huntington Ingalls
John F. Kennedy CVN 79 Super Lift. Photo credit: Huntington Ingalls

Huntington Ingalls’ Newport New Shipbuilding recently conducted a 900-ton superlift in the construction of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), the U.S. Navy’s next generation aircraft carrier. 

At 900 tons, the lift was equivalent to lifting about two Boeing 747’s at their maximum take-off weight. 

CVN-79 is the second Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier being built for the U.S. Navy. The second vessel is said to have “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 prefabricated sections of the ship are welded together to form larger structural units, called “superlifts”, which are then lifted into dry dock using the shipyard’s 1,050-metric ton gantry crane.

CVN-79 is on track to be completed with 445 lifts, which is 51 fewer than CVN-78 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 deliver to the Navy in 2022, when it will replace USS Nimitz (CVN 68).

110623-N-ZZ999-203 WASHINGTON (June 23, 2011) The aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) is the second ship in the Gerald R. Ford class, the Navy's newest class of nuclear aircraft carriers. The ship's first steel was cut in Dec. 2010, and delivery to the Navy is scheduled no later than 2022. (U.S. Navy photo illustration courtesy of Newport News Shipbuilding/Released)
An illustration of the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), the second ship in the Gerald R. Ford class. U.S. Navy