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BUILDING THE NEXT 100 YEARS OF AIRCRAFT CARRIERS

HII is the nation’s sole designer, builder of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and are currently designing and building the next-generation of aircraft carriers – the Gerald R. Ford-class – that use new technologies to provide the U.S. Navy with a highly flexible and survivable platform to meet the operational needs of the 21st century with increased power and reduced manning.

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THE FORD-CLASS

Newport News Shipbuilding is currently building the Gerald R.-Ford class, the first new design for an aircraft carrier in decades.
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REFUELING AND COMPLEX OVERHAUL (RCOH)

We service aircraft carriers throughout their lifetime, including the mid-life project that refuels the nuclear reactors (RCOH).
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WORLDWIDE FLEET SERVICES

Service of each aircraft carrier does not end after delivering it to the Navy. We service the ships through their lifetime, around the world.

Lifecycle of an Aircraft Carrier

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THE FORD-CLASS

Nuclear-powered aircraft carriers are one of the most complex machines ever made by man. The warfighting components of launching and retrieving jet aircraft make it complicated enough, but beneath the surface is a bustling city with two power plants, food services, medical facilities, waste management systems, and even desalination plants that convert sea water to fresh water.

The shipbuilders at Newport News Shipbuilding who build these floating warfighters are now building the newest class of aircraft carriers, the Gerald R. Ford-class. With new software-controlled electromagnetic catapults and weapons elevators, a redesigned flight deck and island, and more than twice the electrical capacity of the preceding class, these aircraft carriers are truly designed for the 21st century and beyond.

The Ford-class is the first new design for a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier since Nimitz (CVN 68). During the design process, the shipbuilders found hidden value in every square inch of the ship, saving the Navy a projected $4 billion in ownership costs over the ship’s 50-year lifespan.

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The Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers (CVN)

Nuclear-powered aircraft carriers are one of the most complex machines ever made by man. The warfighting components of launching and retrieving jet aircraft make it complicated enough, but beneath the surface is a bustling city with two power plants, food services, medical facilities, waste management systems, and even desalination plants that convert sea water to fresh water.

The shipbuilders at Newport News Shipbuilding who build these floating warfighters are now building the newest class of aircraft carriers, the Gerald R. Ford-class. With new software-controlled electromagnetic catapults and weapons elevators, a redesigned flight deck and island, and more than twice the electrical capacity of the preceding class, these aircraft carriers are truly designed for the 21st century and beyond.

The Ford-class is the first new design for a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier since Nimitz (CVN 68). During the design process, the shipbuilders found hidden value in every square inch of the ship, saving the Navy a projected $4 billion in ownership costs over the ship’s 50-year lifespan.

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REFUELING AND COMPLEX OVERHAUL (RCOH)

Newport News Shipbuilding is the only shipyard to perform refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) work on aircraft carriers. This massive undertaking was described in a 2002 Rand Study as one of the most challenging engineering and industrial tasks undertaken anywhere by any organization.

The multi-year project is performed only once during a carrier’s 50-year life and includes refueling of the ship’s two nuclear reactors, as well as significant repair, upgrade and modernization work. We have completed the refueling and complex overhaul of the first five ships of the Nimitz-class, USS Nimitz (CVN 68), USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). Today, we are performing this work on the sixth and seventh ships in the class, USS George Washington (CVN 73) and USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).

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REFUELING AND COMPLEX OVERHAUL (RCOH)​

Newport News Shipbuilding is the only shipyard to perform refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) work on aircraft carriers. This massive undertaking was described in a 2002 Rand Study as one of the most challenging engineering and industrial tasks undertaken anywhere by any organization.

The multi-year project is performed only once during a carrier’s 50-year life and includes refueling of the ship’s two nuclear reactors, as well as significant repair, upgrade and modernization work. We have completed the refueling and complex overhaul of the first five ships of the Nimitz-class, USS Nimitz (CVN 68), USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). Today, we are performing this work on the sixth and seventh ships in the class, USS George Washington (CVN 73) and USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).

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AIRCRAFT CARRIERS FLEET SERVICES

Our portfolio of in-service aircraft carrier fleet service offerings includes maintenance and modernization work on aircraft carriers at our facilities. We also provide technical and life cycle logistics services wherever the need is around the world.

Newport News Shipbuilding also offers inactivation services for nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. In 2018, NNS successfully completed the inactivation of Enterprise (CVN 65), which began in 2013. The NNS-built Enterprise was the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and the only ship of its class.

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AIRCRAFT CARRIERS FLEET SERVICES

Our portfolio of in-service aircraft carrier fleet service offerings includes maintenance and modernization work on aircraft carriers at our facilities. We also provide technical and life cycle logistics services wherever the need is around the world.

Newport News Shipbuilding also offers inactivation services for nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. In 2018, NNS successfully completed the inactivation of Enterprise (CVN 65), which began in 2013. The NNS-built Enterprise was the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and the only ship of its class.

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Lifecycle of an Aircraft Carrier

Carrier Design & Construction

Since 1960, the beginning of the nuclear carrier era, HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding division has been the sole designer and builder of aircraft carriers for the United States Navy. Starting with Enterprise (CVN 65), we have created these marvels of naval engineering from initial design to sea trials. However, designing and building aircraft carriers is no small task.

Design & engineering

Working closely with the Navy, we design and engineer aircraft carriers to their specifications and needs, adding new technologies and innovations with each new ship we build, refining the process each step of the way. The design and engineering of these ships are unparalleled in the world shipbuilding, with our carriers lasting 50 years in often extreme conditions.
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Nuclear propulsion

Nuclear propulsion gives these ships the ability to go for years without refueling, adding unique strategic advantages to the Navy. In partnership with the Navy’s nuclear program, we continually improve the quality and safety of the nuclear reactors that power the ships while increasing the energy efficiency.

Construction of a small city

Building a carrier is a major construction undertaking. Their size is enormous: if stood up, a Nimitz-class carrier is almost as tall as the Empire State Building. Aircraft carriers must support thousands of sailors, aircraft and enough supplies to maintain both for months. The construction process requires large amounts of material ordered years in advance and the coordination of thousands of skilled craftsmen. In the past, most ships were built from the bottom up in a single location. Today, shipbuilding is primarily ‘modular,’ which means that large parts of the ship are completed before being added to the ship using a “superlift.” This approach requires a large crane and dry dock; we have the largest dry dock and gantry crane in the United States. At the 25-year half-life of a carrier, we also perform what is called Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH), which includes refueling of the ship’s nuclear reactors, as well as significant repair, upgrades and modernization work.

Refueling & Complex Overhaul (RCOH)

Newport News Shipbuilding is the only shipyard to perform refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) work on aircraft carriers. This massive undertaking was described in a 2002 Rand Study as one of the most challenging engineering and industrial tasks undertaken anywhere by any organization.
The multi-year project is performed only once during a carrier’s 50-year life and includes refueling of the ship’s two nuclear reactors, as well as significant repair, upgrade and modernization work. We have completed the refueling
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and complex overhaul of the first five ships of the Nimitz-class, USS Nimitz (CVN 68), USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). Today, we are performing this work on the sixth and seventh ships in the class, USS George Washington (CVN 73) and USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).

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Note: The six minute video that begins the ceremonial keel laying for Arkansas (SSN 800) includes copyrighted materials from HII/Newport News Shipbuilding and others.

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