CVN-76 Ronald Reagan
In March 1993, the Secretary of Defense initiated the Bottom-Up Review (BUR) of the nation's defense strategy, force structure, modernization, infrastructure, and foundations to evaluated defense needs in light of the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The BUR concluded that a force of 10 carriers was adequate to meet war-fighting requirements, but 12 carriers (11 active and 1 reserve/training carrier) were needed to maintain overseas presence. The BUR recommended that construction of CVN-76 begin in fiscal year 1995 to maintain the 12-carrier force structure, allow flexibility in the carrier force size, avoid cost increases associated with a delay in construction, and preserve the industrial base at Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Virginia.
In fiscal year 1993, the Congress provided $832 million for long-lead procurement items (primarily nuclear components) for CVN-76. Congressional conferees on the Defense Appropriations Act for 1994 stated that $1.2 billion in the National Defense Sealift Fund may be made available for later transfer to the shipbuilding and conversion account for the carrier. In fiscal year 1995, the Congress appropriated about $2.3 billion to cover the remaining construction costs of CVN-76. The total cost of CVN-76 construction was estimated at $4.3 billion (current dollars for fiscal years 1993-95).
There are a handful of milestones in the seven years it takes to build a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier like the RONALD REAGAN: The keel-laying near the beginning, the christening when the ship is ready to float and the shake-down cruises just before delivery are among them. The keel for CVN-76 was laid on 08 February 1998, though production of the ship's preassembled sections began two years before that. As of May 1998 major structural fabrication was approximately 50% completed.
Newport News Shipbuilding marked the halfway point of RONALD REAGAN construction when it capped the flattop's flight deck with a preassembled island house, home of the ship's quartermasters and air traffic controllers, and one of the prime characteristics of a supercarriers silhouette. With the island is in place atop the RONALD REAGAN, the shipbuilder welded the island house base to the deck. After that, shipbuilders assigned to the island house turned to the piping, wiring and electronics installation. The island house top deck is home to the carrier's "Air Boss," the naval aviator who oversees flight operations and air traffic control.
The RONALD REAGAN logged its next major milestone 04 March 2001 when, on her wedding anniversary, former first lady Nancy Reagan christened the carrier named in her husband's honor. Until then, the carrier's official name was "CVN-76." Plans called for RONALD REAGAN to be commissioned in the Spring of 2003 [not fiscal year 2002 as initially reported]. CVN-76 was commissioned to replace the conventional carrier USS Constellation (CV-64), which was over 40 years old at that time.
When the Navy contracted with Newport News for the Reagan in 1995, the contract was estimated at about $2 billion. The cost increased by $200 million by early 1999, when the contract was rewritten with a new cost of $2.31 billion. In fiscal 2002, the Navy asked for $172 million to pay for cost growth on the Ronald Reagan. The total cost ultimately rose to about $4.5 billion.
The Reagan officially changed homeport from Norfolk, VA to San Diego, CA July 2004. In March 2000 the Navy proposed to homeport the carrier Ronald Reagan to Washington state instead of San Diego, leaving North Island Naval Air Station in Coronado with two rather than three carriers. The Navy spent years overcoming opposition from local environmental groups to get approval for home-porting three nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in San Diego. The Reagan was scheduled to arrive in San Diego in 2004 after an inaugural around-the-world deployment from Virginia. The Navy's new proposal would keep two carriers based in Washington state while the Bremerton-based carrier Vinson is being overhauled in Virginia. The Stennis is based in San Diego, and the Nimitz was slated to arrive in San Diego in November 2001, following completion of its nuclear reactor refueling.
Technological improvements begin to be seen in CVN-76 RONALD REAGAN, which was commissioned in 2003. As a modified repeat of USS Harry S Truman (CVN-75), REAGAN provided an important step on the road to CVN-21 [CVNX]. CVN 76 acts as a transition ship toward CVN-21, incorporating numerous new technologies and process design changes that will move naval aviation to a future carrier design.
REAGAN has a redesigned bulbous bow for increased propulsion efficiency and trim stability. The bulb generates a wave system that interacts with the wave system of the hull so that the resistance at a particular Froude number (or a particular speed) will be reduced. The lower portion of the new bow protrudes forward from the ship in a bubble shape. It adds buoyancy to the bow, reducing drag for better handling at sea and providing lift to the flight deck. Under the guidance of Siu Fung (2420), who worked at NAVSEA at the time, the Reagan's bulbous bow was designed and tested at our West Bethesda site. It was model tested, under project manager Ken Forgach (5200), in the David Taylor Model Basin. The Reagan hull model (#5531), at 38 feet, was the largest model ever tested in the basin. "It was the largest model we could run in the basin without having severe blockage effects," explained Bill Day (5200). This new bow will also be incorporated into USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) and may even be considered as a retrofit design change for all Nimitz Class carriers during refueling and overhaul.
Inside the island is a re-designed and state-of-the-art primary flight control station (pri-fly), giving a 270-degree view of all aircraft on deck and within the carrier's airspace. This larger, expanded panorama ensures better visibility of operations and control of the precise actions on the flight deck. That, in turn, provides a safer working environment for the crew. The aft radar antennae and a new weapons elevator were incorporated into the island structure, making it 20 feet longer and giving RONALD REAGAN a unique profile. An aircraft weapons elevator was relocated from the flight deck and now extends up into the aft section of the island, allowing for more efficient movement of aircraft ordnance during flight operations. The overall height of the island house did not change, but the new island has one less deck, and individual deck heights were increased by nine inches to accommodate overhead systems and allow growth margins for future capability improvements. For the first time aircraft carrier island structure was designed using a 3-D product model and all the construction work for the island was done indoors, in the Modular Outfitting Facility.
The flight deck angle has increased from 9.05 degrees to 9.15 degrees from the centerline. This allows unobstructed simultaneous launching and recovering of aircraft. There is one less arresting gear engine and three wires instead of four. This allows for more space for other essential equipment. The new three-wire arresting gear design can withstand more aircraft landings than the old design due to stronger wire sheaves. Her aircraft elevators also have greater capacity then those currently in use aboard her sister ships.
USS RONALD REAGAN is the first carrier to have the Integrated Communication Advanced Network (ICAN) installed throughout all areas of the ship. ICAN consolidates a number of separate, cumbersome devices and replaces them with single, multi-function, multi-purpose units. ICAN impacts the distribution of navigational data, ships control, machinery control, interior and external communication, the core network backbone and associated power. Digital communications run on a laser fiber backbone for enhanced communications and future upgrade capability. The ship's engines have been outfitted with Titanium pistons for increased strength. Digital flat panels, instead of analog panels, are installed on the bridge. The ship's control console uses a touch screen format.
Part of the model testing on Hull Model #5531 involved evaluating a Code 54 propeller design. Under the Navy's Quiet Surface Ship Propeller Advanced Technology Demonstration Program, Stu Jessup (5030) led a team investigating new ship propeller designs to optimize the cavitation and powering performance. The cavitation tests on the Reagan propeller model were performed in the water tunnels at West Bethesda.
USS Ronald Reagan is the Fleet's first CVN 68 hull to undergo shock hardening shipboard inspection. This inspection is a visual inspection conducted to identify and document MIL-S-901D Grade A and Grade B shock installation deficiencies. These inspections also ensure that deficiencies identified on previous shock inspections of the class have been corrected. Bruce Castelli (623) led the government's effort, which was augmented by contractors. The CVN 76 involved a one-week inspection which focused on representative, higher priority Grade A hull, mechanical, and electrical equipment and was performed just prior to the acceptance trials. The shock inspection was successful and identified shock installation deficiencies which degrade the shock hardening of the HM&E equipment.
There are six, 800-ton air condition units vice the eight 360-ton units on other aircraft carriers. For the first time, an 800-ton air conditioning plant, designed by York International Corp. and supported by Carderock Division engineers is being used aboard ship. This larger-capacity plant increases the cooling capacity aboard this monstrous ship, providing a better quality of life for Sailors and the cooling needed for high-tech electronics. These six units were government-furnished equipment. Our in-service engineers provided oversight throughout design, testing, and shipboard installation. A Code 92 team, under the direction of Mike McGovern (9213), provided this support. Code 9213 is the life cycle manager and in-service engineer for this equipment.
The operating sequence system (OSS) was developed for the aviation fuels, catapult, sewage system, main drain system and eductors, weapons elevators, air conditioning and chill water, firemain, 400 Hz motor generator sets, refrigeration plants, steering gear, aircraft elevators, O2N2, incinerator, plastic waste processor, and glass/metal shredders and pulpers. For new equipments, Code 94 and the technical codes developed planned maintenance system packages and technical manuals. These equipments included air conditioning chlorinator/dechlorinator, 800-ton air conditioning plant, weapons elevators, hexafluoropropylene system, and the boat and aircraft crane.
USS RONALD REAGAN has fifty-person life rafts versus the twenty-five-person life rafts on other carriers. This is the first U.S. Navy ship to be fully equipped with new Mark 8 50-person life rafts. These new rafts are manufactured by Inflatable Survival Systems, Inc. and offer the Navy several advantages over the Mark 6 life rafts. They hold twice as many people, so only approximately half as many rafts need to be carried aboard ship. The Mark 8 costs less, has a longer service cycle, is made of stronger and lighter fabrics, rights itself more easily, is more visible, is more stable in high seas, and has a higher overall construction quality due to improved manufacturing techniques. The Mark 8, which conforms to USCG and IMO/ SOLAS regulations, also features new switchable lithium battery-powered lighting, insulated floor material, and large boarding ramps that are more easily accessible by injured personnel. This life raft will be installed on selected carriers and air-capable ships as Mark 6 life rafts are phased out of service.
USS RONALD REAGAN is equipped with Rolling Airframe Missiles (RAM), which replaces the Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) used on other carriers. RAM Systems pack 21 fire and forget missiles capable of destroying any high-speed incoming targets.
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