The first example of the US Navy’s next-generation aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78), successfully completed full ship shock trials (FSSTs) in August 2021.
Shock trials validate a ship’s shock hardness and ability to sustain operations in a simulated combat environment using live ordnance. During four months of testing, the first-in-class aircraft carrier withstood the impact of three 40,000-pound underwater blasts, released at distances progressively closer to the ship.
“The US Navy designed the Ford class carrier using advanced computer modelling methods, testing, and analysis to ensure the ships are hardened to withstand harsh battle conditions,” said Captain Brian Metcalf, manager for the US Navy’s future aircraft carrier programme office, PMS 378. “These shock trials have tested the resiliency of Ford and her crew and provided extensive data used in the process of validating the shock hardness of the ship.”
Captain Metcalf said that the goal of the tests is to ensure that Ford’s integrated combat systems perform as designed.
CVN 78 subsequently entered a six-month Planned Incremental Availability (PIA). As the PIA begins, teams will conduct additional detailed inspections, assess any damage sustained during the shots, and continue modernization and maintenance work in advance of workups for the ship’s deployment in 2022.
FSSTs are complex evolutions, conducted during a precise operating schedule in compliance with exacting environmental mitigation requirements, respecting known migration patterns of marine life and protected species.
USS Gerald R Ford is the newest and most advanced aircraft carrier in the US Navy. The ship closed out a successful 18-month post-delivery test and trials period in April 2021, during which the crew completed all required testing, accomplished planned improvements and maintenance ahead of schedule, and learned valuable lessons to increase the reliability of Ford class systems. At the same time, the ship also served as the sole East Coast platform for conducting carrier qualifications.
The Ford class has new, software-controlled electromagnetic catapults and weapons elevators, a redesigned flight deck and island, and more than twice the electrical capacity of the preceding Nimitz class carriers.