The Navy's Newest Carrier Finally Has The Critical ​Weapons​ System That The Navy Secretary Staked His Job On — And It Actually Works

Military Tech
Navy Secretary Inspects USS Gerald R. Ford Weapons Elevator

Editor's Note: This article by Richard Sisk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The bigger and faster electromagnetic weapons elevator on the new aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford is finally ready for use, an achievement the Navy called a "major milestone" for the program and other Ford-class carriers to be built in the future.

Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer said earlier this month that he had bet his job on getting all the Ford's elevators to work, telling President Donald Trump that the project would be done by this summer "or you can fire me."


In a release last week, the Navy said the Advanced Weapons Elevator (AWE) was turned over to the ship Dec. 21 by engineers from Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding, in Newport News, Virginia, where the Ford is going through its post-shakedown availability (PSA) to become the 11th carrier in the fleet.

The AWE uses electromagnetic, linear synchronous motors to accommodate heavier loads and swifter movement than the cable elevators on Nimitz-classcarriers, according to the service.

With the new elevator, the Ford will be able to move up to 24,000 pounds of ordnance at 150 feet-per-minute compared to 10,500 pounds at up to 100 feet-per-minute on a Nimitz-class carrier, the Navy said.

Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer is briefed by Lt. Cmdr. Chabonnie Alexander, USS Gerald R. Ford's (CVN 78) ordnance handling officer, on the Upper Stage 1 advanced weapons elevator during a tour of the Navy's newest aircraft carrier (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kiana A. Raines)

The results will be seen in smoother operations and more flights from the carrier's deck, said Lt. Cmdr. Chabonnie Alexander, the Ford's ordnance handling officer.

"This will allow us to load more aircraft faster and, in the long run, increase our overall sortie generation rates," he said in the Navy release.

"To be able to finally push the buttons and watch it operate like it's designed to do was a great feeling," Alexander said. "Once these systems are proven, they are going to pay huge dividends for naval strike capability."

The Ford has three upper-stage elevators that move ordnance between the main deck and flight deck, and seven lower-stage elevators that move ordnance between the main deck and the lower levels of the ship.

Getting all of the elevators working was one of his main concerns, Spencer said earlier this month at an event sponsored by the Center for a New American Security.

Spencer said he told Trump at December's Army-Navy football game that "all the elevators will be ready to go" on the Ford this summer "or you can fire me. We're going to get it done. I know I'm going to get it done."

"I haven't been fired yet by anyone," he said, and "being fired by the president really isn't on the top of my list."

The USS Gerald R. Ford in 2017(U.S. Navy)

The $13 billion Ford was delivered to the Navy in June 2017, two years late and over budget. It was commissioned a month later without any working weapons elevators.

In the long process from design to delivery, the Ford has also experienced technical problems in its new Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and the Advanced Arresting Gear.

This article originally appeared on Military.com

More articles from Military.com:

SEE ALSO: Trump Was Right: The Navy's New Aircraft Catapult Is No Match For 'Goddamned Steam'

WATCH NEXT: The USS Gerald R. Ford's First Fixed-Wing Aircraft Launch

Pearl Harbor survivor Lauren Bruner attends the dual interment of fellow USS Arizona survivors John D. Anderson, boatswain's mate 2nd class, and Clarendon R. Hetrick, seaman 1st class, at the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, as part of the 75th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Navy/Petty Officer 2nd Class Somers Steelman)

Just before 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning 78 years ago, Lauren Bruner was preparing for church services and a date that would follow with a girl he'd met outside his Navy base.

The 21-year-old sailor was stationed as a fire controlman aboard the U.S. battleship USS Arizona, overseeing the vessel's .50-caliber guns.

Then alarms rang out. A Japanese plane had bombed the ship in a surprise attack.

It took only nine minutes for the Arizona to sink after the first bomb hit. Bruner was struck by gunfire while trying to flee the inferno that consumed the ship, the second-to-last man to escape the explosion that killed 1,177, including his best friend; 335 survived.

More than 70% of Bruner's body was burned. He was hospitalized for weeks.

Now, nearly eight decades after that fateful day, Bruner's ashes will be delivered to the sea that cradled his fallen comrades, stored in an urn inside the battleship's wreckage.

Read More Show Less
Joshua Kaleb Watson (Facebook via Business Insider)

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

Joshua Kaleb Watson has been identified as one of the victims of a shooting at the Naval Air Station Pensacola, CBS News reported.

The 23-year-old Alabama native and Naval Academy graduate was named to the Academy's prestigious Commandant's and Dean's lists, and also competed on the rifle team, Alabama's WTVY reported.

Read More Show Less
Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani (Courtesy photo)

PENSACOLA, Fla. (Reuters) - The Saudi airman accused of killing three people at a U.S. Navy base in Florida appeared to have posted criticism of U.S. wars and quoted slain al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on social media hours before the shooting spree, according to a group that monitors online extremism.

Federal investigators have not disclosed any motive behind the attack, which unfolded at dawn on Friday when the Saudi national is said to have began firing a handgun inside a classroom at the Naval Air Station Pensacola.

Read More Show Less
Saudi air force Second Lt. Mohammed Saeed al-Shamrani (NBC News)

The Saudi military officer who shot and killed 3 people at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday reportedly hosted a "dinner party" the week before the attack "to watch videos of mass shootings," the Associated Press reports, citing an unnamed U.S. official.

Read More Show Less
Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) hold folded flags before military funeral honors. (U.S. Army/Elizabeth Fraser)

The Minnesota National Guard has released the names of the three soldiers killed in Thursday's helicopter crash.

Read More Show Less