In March of this year, NEWSREP reported on a new Navy proposal that sought to double its standing order of Ford class super carriers from one to two, creating a larger initial cost but a dramatic reduction in overall costs for the two vessels’ construction. The intent behind the proposal was simple: by building two of these ships at once, ship builders could use their employees more efficiently — moving specialized teams directly from one vessel to the other to complete the same tasks and dramatically reducing the number of man hours required to build the new ships, as compared to doing them one at a time.

This concept isn’t unheard of — it was actually employed in the construction of the Ford class’ predecessor, the Nimitz-class carriers. CVN-72 (USS Abraham Lincoln) and 73 (USS George Washington) and CVN 74 (USS John C. Stennis) and 75 (USS Harry S. Truman) were all purchased in two-ship buys. As a result, those four carriers were built for the lowest cost of all ten Nimitz-class carriers.

The U.S. Navy aircraft carriers USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), USS George Washington (CVN-73), USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) sit pierside at Naval Station Norfolk on 22 May 2017 (l-r).
Date 22 May 2017

Bearing that in mind and with a second Ford-class carrier already under construction, U.S. lawmakers began seriously considering doubling the following order and building the third and fourth Ford-class vessels simultaneously. There’s just one problem with the idea: to date, the class’ namesake USS Gerald R. Ford still doesn’t quite work.

After issues with the new electromagnetic catapults and arresting gear (EMALS) dragging construction both past deadlines and spending caps, then problems with the carrier’s propulsion systems sending it back in for further repairs, most of what U.S. officials call the most advanced carrier on the planet is now up and running — except one very important piece: the munitions elevators.