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Advance Construction Begins for CVN 21

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050812-13
Release Date: 8/12/2005 1:57:00 PM

By Journalist 1st Class Donald P. Rule, Naval Media Center Mobile Det. 3

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- The beveling of a 15-ton metal plate kicked off advance construction of the newest class of aircraft carrier, the CVN 21 project, Aug. 11 at Northrop Grumman Newport News' shipyards in Virginia. The new carrier is designed to modernize the “flat tops” for the 21st century.

Advance construction will take an estimated two years before construction can begin on the actual ship itself. This gives technicians and engineers the time needed to test and design the ship, and all the new technologies that will be put into the vessel.

“We’re going to kind of mark [the occasion of] the first cutting of steel,” said Matt Mulherin, vice president of programs at Northrop Grumman Newport News. “We’re starting advance construction today, and it’s the construction needed to kind of learn your lessons, validate your capacity assumptions...see how things are working out in your new facility.”

“Remember, this is the lead ship,” Mulherin added. “Historically, they take a little bit longer. There’s a little bit of a learning curve that needs to be learned and implemented.”

Besides being larger than today’s Nimitz-class carriers, the new generation will switch the steam-powered catapults to electromagnetic catapults; redesign the island structure, which merges the separate island and mast of the old carriers into a single, smaller compact unit; and a newly designed nuclear power plant. These and other systems will be designed to maximize efficiency and reduce costs, manning and weight while enhancing the ship’s operational capabilities.

“[The ship] will have improved capabilities over the Nimitz class, a class of ships that has proven very capable,” said Mike Petters, president of Northrop Grumman Newport News. “CVN 21 is designed for efficiency over the 50-year lifecycle while providing America with the kind of forward presence unique to aircraft carriers and so critical in today’s uncertain world.”

The metal plate cut during Thursday's ceremony will eventually be used in the construction of CVN 78, the first aircraft carrier to be built under the CVN 21 project. Along with the first-cut ceremony, the shipyard held its grand opening for several new facilities to be used in the construction of the new warships.

New facilities include a heavy-plate bay facility, a covered modular-assembly facility and others to protect employees and components from the weather, and additional cranes to allow modular pieces to be built more complete prior to attaching it to the rest of the ship.


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