New Ship News – Carrier Ford and MLP Glenn floated, LPD Somerset delivered

Water creeps up the graving dock to the giant aircraft carrier GERALD R. FORD. (US Navy photo by MC1 Joshua J. Wahl)

It was a rainy Oct. 11 at Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va., but spirits remained high as the future USS GERALD R. FORD (CVN 78) was floated for the very first time. Four years after construction began in a huge graving dock, ship’s sponsor Susan Ford Bales, daughter of the late president,  pushed a series of buttons to start the flow of more than 100 million gallons of water into the dry dock. 

The flooding of the dock takes place in phases during which various tests are conducted. Initially, the dock is flooded about 4 feet high to its keel blocks, wood-capped concrete pads on which the ship has been supported during construction. Once the dock is fully flooded and initial afloat testing is complete, water will be partially pumped out and the ship returned to her keel blocks in anticipation of the ship’s christening on Nov. 9. The FORD will float again about a week later when it will be moved to a pier for outfitting.

While the “float off” isn’t nearly as dramatic or sexy as an old-fashioned slider launch — more like filling a large bathtub — it gets the job done with a minimum of stress on the ship’s hull. Time lapse photography helps as well — but it’ll be a bit longer before that video is available.

The last edition of New Ship News is here.

While the media records her every move, ship's sponsor Susan Ford Bales hits the buttons that will start the flooding process. (Newport News Shipbuilding photo by Chris Oxley)

The James River starts to gush into the drydock. (Newport News Shipbuilding photo by John Whalen)

Bales smiles as the water creeps toward the carrier. The Number 12 dry dock is the largest graving dock in the western hemisphere and was completed in 1976. Two carriers can fit in the dock, which can be partitioned so one half can be used while a ship is under construction in the other half. (Newport News Shipbuilding photo by John Whalen)

The waters creep closer to the giant ship -- the largest warship ever built. (Newport News Shipbuilding photo by John Whalen)

The FORD will be formally christened during a ceremony on Nov. 9. The ship won't be delivered to the Navy until 2016. (Newport News Shipbuilding photo by John Whalen)

Another float off took place on the other side of the country on Sept. 15, when the new Mobile Landing Platform USNS JOHN GLENN (MLP 2) was floated at the General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding yard in San Diego, Calif. The MLP, adapted from an oil tanker design, features a large, flat deck upon which a variety of smaller vessels can be stored and carried. The ship will be able to ballast down and float off its cargo.

Tugs surround the JOHN GLENN to move the vessel to a fitting out berth. (NASSCO photo)

The MLP design is derived from a commercial tanker design, but certainly results in a strikingly different profile. On the other side of the ship can be seen the littoral combat ship USS INDEPENDENCE (LCS 2), undergoing an overhaul in an adjacent drydock. (NASSCO photo).

The MLP is a twin-screw design, clearly visible here as the new ship rides high in the water. The next MLP, the LEWIS B. PULLER, will be adapted to become an Afloat Forward Staging Base. (NASSCO photo)

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The new amphibious transport dock SOMERSET (LPD 25) performs a traditional S turn as she poses for the photographer Aug. 15 during builder's trials in the Gulf of Mexico. Ninth ship of the San Antonio LPD 17 class, the Somerset will be the last ship built at Avondale Shipbuilding in New Orleans, which is being converted to other kinds of manufacturing by parent Huntington Ingalls Industries. (HII photo)

Christopher P. Cavas
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Christopher P. Cavas

If it's on, over, under or around the water, I write about it. Ships and aircraft, units, tactics, leadership, strategies, acquisition, politics, industry. In the USA and around the world.
Christopher P. Cavas
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