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Shipyard cites progress on second Ford-class carrier

The aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy in drydock under construction Shooting from outside the gate from Warwick Blvd. in Newport News.

Newport News Shipbuilding, which is working to control costs on the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy, has built about 70 percent of the structures that are needed to complete the ship, officials announced recently.

Shipbuilders use modular construction methods to build the carrier, welding together small components to form larger structures called super-lilfts. Those larger pieces are hoisted into Dry Dock 12, where the ship is being built, by a 1,050-metric ton gantry crane.

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The shipyard wants these super-lifts to be as large and complete as possible before the piece is hoisted into the dry dock. That's because shipbuilders can work more efficiently in the open yard than on a partially completed ship.

The Newport News shipyard is the sole designer and manufacturer of nuclear-powered carriers for the Navy and a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries.

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About a month ago, HII CEO Mike Petters gave an upbeat assessment of progress on Kennedy's construction, which is incorporating thousands of improvements over the first-in-class USS Gerald R. Ford.

At the time, Petters said Kennedy was about 68 percent structurally complete and 40 percent complete overall. "We continue to be pleased with the quality of the work and the incorporation of lessons learned from the lead ship of the class," the USS Gerald R. Ford, Petters said.

Lessig can be reached by phone at 757-247-7821.

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