The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW


CVN-77 - George H.W. Bush

The Navy aircraft carrier acquisition program responds to future challenges and requirements with a two-track strategy. The near-term track of this strategy is CVN 77, the tenth NIMITZ Class and the first carrier of the 21st Century. The post-Cold War carrier force structure includes 12 aircraft carriers, 11 in the active force and one in the reserves. To maintain this force structure, the Navy must begin construction of its next carrier, CVN-77, by fiscal year 2002 in order to complete it by fiscal year 2008. Completion in this year is necessary to replace the last conventional carrier, USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63), that will still be in service in the active force. Kitty Hawk will be 47 years old at that time.

CVN 77 was scheduled to enter the fleet in 2008, as the two remaining Kitty Hawk-class carriers are retired. The commissioning ceremony of the USS George H.W. Bush took place 10 November 2009 at Norfolk Naval Station where the ship was docked. During the ceremony, President George W. Bush said, "this ship is a fitting tribute to a generation of men with whom my dad was privileged to serve," commenting on his father's service as a World War II naval aviator. "She's also a tribute to a generation of American Soldiers, Sailors, and Coast Guardsmen and women and Airmen and Marines who have stepped forward to defend the United States of America."

The Navy released an artists conception of what CVN-77 will look like on December 11, 2002. CVN-77 will be the beginning of a three-ship road to a fully developed 21st century aircraft carrier. CVN-77 will take the initial modifications to the NIMITZ class design even further. The island will contain multi-function electronic arrays for improved command, control, communications and intelligence. These multifunction sensors will also have reduced maintenance and manpower requirements over the current single use systems. Improved self-defense capabilities will be added in the form of the advanced Sea Sparrow missile and electronic warfare improvements. Cruise ship technologies in the form of waste management systems, habitability and shipboard materials will also be utilized. CVN-77 will also potentially utilize a new jet blast deflector (JBD) system. The new JBD will comprise metal panels coated with heat dissipating ceramic tiles, similar to those used on the space shuttle. These tiles can resist higher levels of heat than the current water cooled JBDs and will be far less maintenance intensive. The ship can easily store a large number of tile sheets, as replacements become necessary. The goal with CVN 77 will be to accomplish significant operating cost reductions and manpower savings. The well-proven nuclear propulsion plant of the earlier NIMITZ class ships will be used in this ship.

The Fiscal Year 1998 budget request would have funded CVN-77 in the traditional manner by means of advance procurement funding of $695.0 million in fiscal year 2000, with the remaining balance of $4.5 billion included in fiscal year 2002. The previous nuclear aircraft carrier, CVN-76, was authorized in fiscal year 1995. The seven year gap between CVN-76 and CVN-77 exceeded any construction interval between individual carriers in the previous three decades, which was the six years between USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), a fiscal year 1974 ship, and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), a fiscal year 1980 ship.

In 1997 Newport News proposed what it termed a "Smart Buy" procurement strategy for the next Nimitz class carrier, under which a portion of CVN-77 funding originally budgeted for 2002 would be incrementally funded in FY98 through FY01. The company claimed that this advanced funding would reduce the cost of the carrier by an estimated $600 million by ensuring a strong supplier base and preserving essential shipbuilding skills that might otherwise be lost during the construction gap between CVN-76 and CVN-77.

The FY1998 budget request included no funding for CVN 77, a posture supported by the House. However, the Senate authorized $345.0 million for procurement and construction of components for the CVN 77 aircraft carrier, authorized the Secretary of the Navy to enter into a contract or contracts with the carrier shipbuilder for such purposes, and authorized $35.0 million for research, development, test, and evaluation of technologies that have potential for use in the CVN 77. The Senate directed the Secretary of Defense to structure the procurement of the CVN 77 so that the carrier is acquired for an amount not to exceed $4.6 billion.

The conferees supported construction of the CVN 77 and encouraged the Secretary of Defense to make available up to $295.0 million in fiscal year 1998 and to include in the FYDP accompanying the fiscal year 1999 budget request the funding necessary to achieve the savings required to remain within the $4.6 billion cost limitation.

                                      CVN-77 ANNUAL FUNDING                                             
                                     [In millions of dollars]                                            
                                              Fiscal year--                               
                    -------------------------------------------------------   Total  
                        1998       1999       2000       2001       2002             
    FYDP...........        0          0        695          0      4,505      5,200
    Senate.........      345        170        875        135      3,074      4,600
    Difference.....     +345       +170       +180       +135     -1,430       -600

Responding to FY 1998 Congressional action, the Navy substantially revised the Department's SCN funding profile for CVN 77 in the FY 1999 budget submission. Including the $48.7 million provided by the FY 1998 Appropriations Act, the Department applied a total of $241 million above the advance procurement for nuclear components, for non-nuclear advance procurement and advance construction of components in FYs 1998 through 2000. With assistance in top line accommodation from the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget, this accelerated the full funding of CVN 77 one year to FY 2001. The resultant profile, which shortens the production gap between CVN 76 and CVN 77, will provide significant industrial base benefits and savings while balancing other shipbuilding priorities.

CVN-77 provides a transition from the Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carrier to the next-generation CV(X). As such, CVN-77 is a candidate for development, evaluation, and incorporation of a range of advanced technologies and acquisition reform initiatives which, not only could result in lower life cycle costs, but could also set the standard by which further improvements in the application of advanced technologies and acquisition initiatives to the design and construction of the CV(X) will be measured. Technology innovations fielded in CVN 77, which are targeted to achieve a 15% reduction in Operation and Support Costs, will also be backfit as feasible in the other nine ships of the NIMITZ Class through the Carrier Improvement Plan, and forward fit to achieve cost savings and risk reduction in the next class, CVX. The FY 1999 budget request included $38 million in RDT&E funding to support incorporation of critical transition technologies in CVN 77.

The FY 1998 Congressional Budget authorized and appropriated $50 M for CVN 77 "Smart Buy" and reduced funding of critical CV technology R&D targeted for CVX by $78.0 M, while adding an additional $17 M R&D for CVN 77. As of April 1998 CVN-77 program costs decreased $663.1 million (-12.3%) from $5,412.0 million to $4,748.9 million, due primarily to the application of revised escalation indices (-$343.1 million), acceleration of the CVN-77 procurement buy profile (-$318.6 million), and changes in government furnished equipment for CVN-77, including use of refurbished equipment (-$152.5 million). These decreases were partially offset by increased costs for process and design changes that will reduce manning and high maintenance expenses on CVN-68 Class ships (+$66.4 million).

The fully funded FY 2001 procurement of CVN 77, the tenth and final ship of the NIMITZ Class, begins an evolutionary aircraft carrier acquisition strategy, which will be used to develop the next generation of aircraft carriers. The CVN 77 will serve as a technology bridge to the next generation of aircraft carriers designated CVNX. The FY 2001 budget request includes RDT&E funding of $38 million to continue incorporating critical transition technologies in CVN 77. RDT&E efforts have been focused on a new, fully integrated combat system and related initiatives to reduce TOC.

On 26 January 2001 Newport News Shipbuilding signed a $3.8 billion deal with the Navy to build the aircraft carrier CVN-77. The contract did not include the cost of the ship's two government-supplied nuclear reactors or equipment the Navy installs that are not built by the shipyard. The contract does include, for the first time, the yard's new role of equipping the ship's warfare system, a task previously performed by the Navy. The FY 2001 budget funded the tenth and final Nimitz-class aircraft carrier (CVN-77), which was expected to replace USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) in 2008.

By early 2002 CVN-77 did not have a name yet, though Sen. John Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, had suggested the vessel be called Lexington. The name is rich in naval tradition and held by two illustrious carriers, one of which sank in the Battle of Coral Sea in 1942.

On December 9, 2002 Secretary of the Navy Gordon England officially named the Navy's 10th Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, CVN 77, in honor of World War II naval aviator and former President of the United States George Herbert Walker Bush during a ceremony at the Pentagon.

Construction of the latest Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, CVN 77 began in 2001 with a projected delivery in 2008. CVN 77 is the first in a three-ship technology-driven transition that will introduce improvements over 18 years from CVN 77 through CVNX 2. A principal focus of this transition is on reducing crew workload by identifying and improving manpower intensive tasks and processes.

As in the latest commercial ships, controls on the carrier's bridge and propulsion plant will be automated and combat systems were integrated into a modernized computing architecture to reduce manpower and improve performance. Antennas were built into a redesigned island to reduce the ship's radar signature.

The research and development efforts that underway for aircraft carriers - both CVN 77 and future aircraft carriers and through retrofits for those aircraft carriers already in the fleet - will help to significantly reduce the cost of operating and maintaining these vessels. The Navy and industry partners are developing innovative approaches and ideas that can be integrated into CVN 77 to enhance performance, improve capability, and reduce acquisition and life cycle cost, in such areas as island house redesign and C4I space designs and layouts, flight deck studies and aircraft optimization, advanced sensors, external communications systems, and ICAN and interior communications.


Features of CVN 77 Concept Design

1 Passive Jet Blast Deflector: Redesigns and new materials mean reduced maintenance costs.
2 Island Designs: Improve flight deck access and reduce signature and electronic self-interference.
3 Signature Reduction: Curved flight deck edges, enclosed antenna farms, smaller islands and internal aircraft elevators add up to maximum stealth.
4 Aircraft Pit Stop: Semi-automated refueling and servicing in a new configuration and deck location provides faster, more efficient airwing pit stops and requires fewer people.
5 Hanger Bay: New designs reduce clutter.

Other features incorporated in this concept include:

Manpower Reductions: Technology, space rearrangement, operational procedure changes, advanced sensor technologies and condition-based maintenance systems all allow for a smaller, specially-trained crew.

Reconfigurable Spaces: Life-of-the-ship modular construction designs provide flexibility and reduce cost.

Expanded Bandwidth: More onboard and offboard capability gives the ship a communications edge.

Zonal Electrical Distribution Systems: Isolate the potential for problems and minimizes the effect on the rest of the ship.

Automation Insertion: Material movement devices, semi-autonomous, gravity compensated weapons handling devices, damage control automation systems and components will reduce the ship's crew and costs.

Join the mailing list

One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 07-02-2016 19:42:02 ZULU