Congress Has A Plan To Get Ships Deployed Faster: Skip Some Tests

US Navy/John Whalen

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Congress is considering skipping “shock trials” for the USS Gerald R. Ford, the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, to get the ship into service faster.

The $13 billion ship, which was commissioned to the Navy in May, is the first of its class and nearly two years late and more than $2 billion over-budget, and the Navy is desperate to deploy the ship.

The House Committee on Armed Services’ Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee has added language in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, Defense News reports.

The Navy wanted to do shock trials on the USS Gerald R. Ford in 2015 because the second ship in the class wouldn’t be completed until 2022. Several problems with the aircraft carrier’s advanced technology, including the power generators and the system that launches and catches aircraft, delayed the construction and the sea trials.

“The Navy initially didn’t want to shock-trial [USS Ford], they wanted to shock-trial [John F. Kennedy],” an aide for the House Armed Services Committee said. “So … by taking out the shock trial associated with [USS Ford], we are at least able to accelerate to Ford delivery by at least a year.”

All new ships must complete shock trials, where live munitions are detonated in the water near the ship to test how resilient the hull is, but the first ship in the class isn’t always tested. The first ship in a class isn’t always tested. For example, Arleigh Burke-class destroyers that entered the service in the 1990s didn’t undergo shock trials until the third ship.

The Navy declared the ship “99 percent complete” in January, and sent it to sea trials in April.

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