The Navy's $13 billion supercarrier is still having major problems

Military Tech
USS Gerald R. Ford Flight Ops

The U.S. Navy's new supercarrier continues to face major problems that will delay its delivery to the fleet for three months as the service bets big on this troubled ship, Navy officials revealed Tuesday.


Following testing and evaluation with the fleet, the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford began a yearlong maintenance and upgrade process at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia last July, with expectations that the carrier would return to the fleet this summer.

The Ford is now slated to spend at least another three months in dry dock due to unforeseen problems with the ship's nuclear power plant, the weapons elevators, and other areas, USNI News reported Tuesday, citing recent testimony by Navy officials before the House Armed Services Committee seapower and projection subcommittee.

"October right now is our best estimate," James Geurts, the assistant secretary of the Navy for research development and acquisition, told the committee.

The weapons elevators, of which the Ford only has two of the necessary 11, have long been an issue, but the propulsion problem is reportedly less understood.

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is maneuvered by tugboats in the James River during Ford's turn ship evolution. Ford is currently undergoing its post-shakedown availability at Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding (U.S. Navy/Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan Seelbach)

The problems with the ship's main turbine generators appear more serious than initially indicated when they were discovered during sea trials.

The main turbine generators use steam from the ship's two onboard nuclear reactors to generate electricity for the ship's four propeller shafts, USNI News reports, adding that sources familiar with the repairs say that two of the turbine generators need "unanticipated and extensive overhauls."

The issue first appeared in May of last year, when the ship was forced to return to port early. "The ship experienced a propulsion system issue associated with a recent design change, requiring a return to homeport for adjustments before resuming at sea testing," the service told Navy Times.

As The War Zone notes, the $13 billion Ford has experienced numerous problems affecting everything from the arresting gear and catapults to its radar systems, yet the Navy is pushing ahead with purchases of this new class of carrier while proposing early retirement for an operational Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.

In its fiscal year 2020 budget proposal, the Navy announced plans to retire the USS Harry S. Truman two decades early rather refuel the ship's nuclear cores to power it for another quarter century. The move will reportedly to free up billions for a block buy of two Ford-class carriers and investment in unproven and untested unmanned systems the service has determined will be necessary for future combat.

The Ford continues to face developmental challenges as the service is moving forward on future Ford-class carriers — the USS John F. Kennedy, the USS Enterprise, and a yet to be named carrier identified only as CVN-81.

The embattled flagships are expected to play a crucial role in power projection, but setbacks have raised questions about when exactly it will be ready to play that part.

Read more from Business insider:

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

WATCH NEXT: The Navy's Lethality Push

(Air Force photo / Tech Sgt. Oneika Banks)

Kirtland Air Force Base isn't much different from the world beyond its gates when it comes to dealing with mental illnesses, a base clinical psychologist says.

Maj. Benjamin Carter told the Journal the most frequent diagnosis on the base is an anxiety disorder.

"It's not a surprise, but I anticipate about anytime in the population in America, about 20% of the population has some form of diagnosable anxiety disorder, and it's no different in the military," he said.

Leading the way among the anxiety disorders, he said, were post-traumatic stress disorder "or something like panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder."

Read More
(National Archives / Marine Corps Photo / WO Obie Newcomb, Jr., November 1943)

The DNA of a niece and nephew, who never met their uncle, has helped identify the remains of the Kansas Marine who died in WWII.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced that 21-year-old U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Raymond Warren was identified using DNA and circumstantial evidence. Warren had been buried in a cemetery in the Gilbert Islands, where he was killed when U.S. forces tried to take secure one of the islands from the Japanese.

The Battle of Tarawa lasted from Nov. 20 to Nov. 23, 1943, and claimed the lives of 1,021 U.S. marines and sailors, more than 3,000 Japanese soldiers and an estimated 1,000 Korean laborers before the U.S. troops seized control, the agency said.

Read More
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff. Sgt. Daniel Snider)

Arizona lawmakers are vowing to fight a plan by the Air Force to start retiring some of the nation's fleet of A-10 Thunderbolt II ground-attack jets — a major operation at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base — as part of a plan to drop some older, legacy weapon systems to help pay for new programs.

U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., a former A-10 pilot, and U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., both vowed to fight the move to retire 44 of the oldest A-10s starting this year.

During a press briefing last week, Air Force officials unveiled plans to start mothballing several older platforms, including retiring some A-10s even as it refits others with new wings.

Read More

MOSCOW/SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea, whose leader Kim Jong Un was filmed riding through the snow on a white stallion last year, has spent tens of thousands of dollars on 12 purebred horses from Russia, according to Russian customs data.

Accompanied by senior North Korean figures, Kim took two well-publicized rides on the snowy slopes of the sacred Paektu Mountain in October and December.

State media heralded the jaunts as important displays of strength in the face of international pressure and the photos of Kim astride a galloping white steed were seen around the world.

North Korea has a long history of buying pricey horses from Russia and customs data first reported by Seoul-based NK News suggests that North Korea may have bolstered its herd in October.

Read More
Screenshot of a propaganda video featuring former Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A high-profile local Taliban figure who announced and justified the 2012 attack on teenage Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai has escaped detention, Pakistan's interior minister confirmed a few days after the militant announced his breakout on social media.

Former Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan, who claimed responsibility on behalf of his group for scores of Taliban attacks, proclaimed his escape on Twitter and then in an audio message sent to Pakistani media earlier this month.

The Pakistani military, which had kept Ehsan in detention for three years, has declined to comment but, asked by reporters about the report, Interior Minister Ijaz Shah, said: "That is correct, that is correct."

Shah, a retired brigadier general, added that "you will hear good news" in response to questions about whether there had been progress in hunting down Ehsan.

Read More