Keel Laying Commemorated for Third Ship of the Gerald R. Ford Class, Future USS Enterprise (CVN 80) > Naval Sea Systems Command > Saved News Module


NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — With the words “I hereby declare that the keel of the United States Ship Enterprise is truly and fairly laid,” Olympians Simone Biles and Katie Ledecky wrote their initials in chalk on respective steel plates, which were then stamped by skilled welders and affixed to the keel of the future USS Enterprise (CVN 80), Saturday at the HII-Newport News (NNS) Shipyard, in Newport News, VA.

Ledecky attended the historic keel-laying ceremony for the nation’s most advanced aircraft carrier in person, while Biles participated via a pre-recorded message from the World Champions Center in Spring, Texas. Five years earlier, on August 24, 2017, Biles and Ledecky attended CVN 80’s first steel cutting ceremony, marking the company’s first major construction milestone, the third ship of the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) class aircraft carrier.

On Saturday, after NNS welders Ephony King and Jonathan Rishor finished welding the athletes’ initials onto small steel plates, NNS lead rigger Mike “Chile” Williams radioed Ledecky, who gave the order for NNS Crane Operator Charlie Holloway to lower the 688 ton keel unit into the drydock. This section of the ship will support the forward half of the Enterprise, when the CVN 80 is fully assembled. The ceremonial plates will be permanently fixed to the keel of the vessel.

Work on Enterprise has been progressing as planned, since NNS loaded Enterprise’s keel unit during the ship’s first “super-lift” on April 5, 2022. With the first major structural element in place, the workers continued to erect the aircraft carrier in the drydock by combining a series of pre-equipped modules.

“This is a significant milestone for the ship and the class, said Rear Admiral James P. Downey, Aircraft Carrier Program Manager (PEO CV). “The shipyard took lessons from building the USS Gerald R. Ford and John F. Kennedy and applied them directly to building the Enterprise. Our industry partners apply integrated digital shipbuilding best practices to the process, resulting in efficiencies in both cost and schedule.

Captain Brian Metcalf, who heads the Gerald R. Ford-class newbuild program office, gave examples of the ship’s many construction efficiencies. “Acquiring CVN 80 and CVN 81 as part of a two-vessel purchase has already enabled us to achieve efficiencies early in the build process. And building the carrier with fewer, but larger, pre-fitted super-lifts was a major improvement that helps streamline the construction of the CVN 80 over previous Ford-class hulls.

The CVN 80 drydock construction program, for example, includes 131 superlifts. By comparison, crews erected the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) with 162 superlifts, and the future USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) with 155.

The future USS Enterprise will be the ninth warship in the US Navy to bear this name, the first being a sloop of war, commissioned in 1775, after being captured from the British during the American Revolutionary War. The last Enterprise (CVN 65), served as the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier from 1961 to 2017, and is currently moored nearby in the shipyard pending the results of an environmental impact statement and a decision of the Navy on disposal options.

The company’s heritage
On hand to honor the legacy that unites builders and sailors during the keel laying celebration, 99-year-old retired chief petty officer Bill Norberg served as chief yeoman aboard the USS Enterprise (CV 6) throughout World War II. . Norberg witnessed firsthand countless pivotal moments during the Pacific War, including the Doolittle Raid launched from the USS Hornet (CV 8) and the Battle of Midway. Norberg’s Enterprise was the seventh fighter to bear this name.

Kevin Cormier, acting executive director of PEO Aircraft Carriers, noted that Norberg represents the bridge between the CV 6 and the CVN 80. “Shipbuilding and maintenance is a tough and long-lasting business. And the task of preparing combatants who serve the sailor and meet the challenge of the seas is more critical than ever.

Cormier added, “Chief Norberg’s service and consummate humility is the raison d’être of our company – a chain that endures through the efforts of sailors and our ship designers and builders to build, maintain and support the fleet of country’s aircraft carrier throughout a ship. the entire lifetime, from design and construction to inactivation and disposal. In his dual-hatted role, Cormier is also assistant program manager for the Gerald R. Ford Class New Build Program Office.

Ceremony attendees
Under Secretary of the Navy Erik K. Raven gave the keynote address and spoke poignantly about the significance of the occasion. “The power of this ceremony – in this shipyard, in our country, on this day – is to mark the beginning of another ship’s life to serve more generations of Americans, service members, friends, families, leaders, partners and allies.”

Raven added: “Appropriately, in the presence of the previous Big E, we now lay the keel of the next Enterprise – the newest future naval warship, the CVN 80.”

Raven also noted that 2022 marks 100 years of carrier-based aviation. He said that while the USS Langley (CV 1) began March 20, 1922 as an experimental platform, it quickly “proved to be the catalyst for a revolution, changing the way we fight at sea and expanding the reach of the Navy. The aircraft carrier has become an icon and is recognized around the world as a beacon of both strength and hope and an undeniable representation of American diplomacy. And the future Enterprise will be another undeniable symbol of our commitment to protecting freedom on the oceans and in the world.

Raven assumed the responsibilities of Under Secretary of the Navy on April 13, 2022. He is Chief Operating Officer and Director of Management for the Department of the Navy.

Admiral Daryl Caudle, Commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, explained during his remarks that “the company will be key to advancing the idea of ​​integrated deterrence through its enhanced capabilities, including mobility and range. unmatched; advanced combat and control and communication systems; it is a lifetime nuclear power plant; and, perhaps most importantly, its ability to deliver the toughest, deadliest next-generation attack aircraft at unprecedented pace and perseverance.

Other distinguished visitors included Congressman Rob Wittman, (R-VA, 1st District); Elaine Luria (D-VA, 2nd District); and Bobby Scott, (D-VA, 3rd District).

The Navy-Industry team on hand to commemorate Enterprise’s keel laying included Jennifer Boykin, president, Newport News Shipbuilding; RAdm John Meier, Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic; RAdm James P. Downey, PEO CV; and Capt. Hannah Kriewaldt, Commanding Officer, Shipbuilding Supervisor, Newport News.

Boykin, who served as emcee, paid tribute to members of the public, including HII President and CEO Chris Kastner, Newport News Mayor McKinley Price; Ann Zumwalt, Representative

the United States Navy Sponsors Society; Aircraft Carrier Industrial Base Coalition (ACIBC) suppliers; as well as veterans who served on former Enterprise ships.

Ship Sponsors
The ship’s sponsors are internationally renowned. Ledecky is a three-time Olympian, participating in the 2012, 2016, 2020 Games, winning 10 medals. Her seven Olympic gold medals and 15 world championship gold medals are the highest for a swimmer. Ledecky broke 14 world records and 37 American records during her career. And in June, Ledecky made history by becoming the first swimmer to win five consecutive world championship titles in an individual event.

Biles is America’s most decorated female gymnast, with 32 world and Olympic medals. She competed in two Olympics, 2016 and 2020, winning seven Olympic medals, the most won by an American gymnast. Biles received the Presidential Medal of Freedom on July 7, 2022 for his work as an advocate for mental health awareness.

With Ledecky’s parents, David and Mary Gen (Hagan) Ledecky, in the audience, the world champion swimmer spoke of ordinary working people as the nation’s true heroes: “Often unsung…who work in very difficult and very consumers, where things are created and built… and where our health, our society and our freedoms are protected. Ledecky thanked the shipyard workers and said, “By helping to keep our military strong, you are helping to keep our country safe.”

Ledecky also reflected on the service of his late grandfather, Edward Jordan Hagan, MD, who served with the 1st Marine Division as a combat surgeon “in some of the worst battles” in the Pacific during World War II. and recognized the sacrifices of shipbuilders, service members and their families.

She spoke about the importance of endurance, courage and consistency in swimming and in life, traits reflected in her favorite training mantras: “Get the lead, keep the lead”; and “No shortcuts”.

Ledecky said: “It is apparent to me that even though these shipbuilders are working with great efficiency – another key to swimming, to accomplish each task no shortcuts are taken to ensure the ‘Big E’ lives up to its great reputation.” Ledecky encouraged the “Big E” family to “keep the end goal in mind while celebrating the small wins of your teammates…and cheering each other on along the way.”

Ship co-sponsor Simone Biles, speaking in a recorded message from her home gym in Spring, Texas, said she was proud to be a part of Enterprise’s legacy and celebrate the next big stage on the ship’s route to baptism and delivery.

The Gerald R. Ford class
The Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers displace approximately 100,000 tons and are 1,092 feet long, with a beam of 124 feet; and can operate at over 30 knots. Designed to be operated by a smaller crew than the previous aircraft carrier, each Ford-class ship will provide significant savings in total cost of ownership over a 50-year lifespan, compared to the Nimitz-class ships they are meant to replace.

The future USS Enterprise is expected to replace USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), which is currently scheduled for inactivation in 2029.

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