Sudden shortage of spare parts for USS Gerald R. Ford

WASHINGTON – The reason is prosaic – the US military does not seem to have provided a regular supply of spare parts for the latest “floating airfield” worth $ 13 billion, learned BulgarianMilitary.com, citing Defense News.

Sudden shortage of spare parts for USS Gerald R. Ford
Photo credit: Daily Press

The U.S. Navy was forced to resort to a partial “spare parts cannibalism” to speed up the commissioning of the newest aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford, which is due to launch its first military campaign next year.

The “victim of cannibalism” was the hull of the promising aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy [CVN-79], which was launched in 2019, and the commissioning of the US Navy is being prepared for 2024.

The aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy “cannibalized” mainly the elements of the power supply system for the USS Gerald R. Ford, in particular – controllers for engines and other power supplies, pumping units, valve actuators, and switches for various systems throughout the ship.

In other words, we are talking about a sudden shortage of components, the production of which does not require the possession of critical technologies.

The US military boasts that the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy will be a platform for 23 high-tech systems at once, such as an electromagnetic catapult to launch EMALS aircraft or elevators to supply ammunition. And the lack of components for the ship’s power supply systems looks at least an annoying failure.

Officially, the US Navy shipbuilding company Huntington Ingalls Industries [NSI], the manufacturer of the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford say that the sudden problem with components for the ship’s power systems was a surprise for them, “which could not have been foreseen.”

The American ships and the military say that the “cannibalism of spare parts” from the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy at the stage of completion – and will remain a “single episode.” As a result, the US Navy and NIS are preparing a contract for the regular supply of components to equip power systems and other systems for promising aircraft carriers such as the USS Gerald R. Ford.

There are other aspects to this story of “spare parts cannibalism” for the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford. The US Navy managed to certify the flight deck of the ship and the air group, so the “borrowing” of spare parts, in general, did not create bureaucratic problems.

The US Navy did not disclose the reason under which the problem arose with the lack of spare parts for the ship’s power supply systems, in particular – during which stage of the tests this problem “got out”. It seems that this problem “came out” after the last stage of the cycle of underwater blasting tests [FSST], which took place in early August 2021.

Then the US Navy detonated a charge weighing 18 tons, the explosion of which was able to simulate an earthquake with a magnitude of 3.9. The US Navy announced that the USS Gerald R. Ford’s system for fighting the survival of the aircraft carrier was a success, but the US military was diplomatically silent about the state of the ship’s other systems.

In theory, the US Navy could order the production of new components for the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford, and not resort to “cannibalism of spare parts” from the future aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy.

But here the financial factor seems to have played a role – instead of the planned $ 10.5 billion, the actual cost of building the USS Gerald R. Ford has already reached $ 13 billion, and here the US Navy could decide not to go beyond budget constraints.

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