USS Gerald R. Ford successfully completes final shock trials

The aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) completed the first scheduled explosive event of Full Ship Shock Trials while underway in the Atlantic Ocean on June 18, 2021.

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford has successfully completed its third and final round of Full Ship Shock Trials.

The third explosive event was conducted Sunday off the coast of Jacksonville, Fla., according to a Naval Sea Systems Command statement.

The Full Ship Shock Trials tested the warship’s ability to withstand shock in a simulated combat environment with live ordnance.

The prior two trials were conducted on June 18 and July 16.

Over months of testing, the first of the Ford-class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers withstood the impact of three 40,000-pound underwater blasts fired progressively closer to it, officials said.

“The Navy designed the Ford-class carrier using advanced modeling methods, testing, and analysis to ensure the ships are hardened to withstand harsh battle conditions,” Capt. Brian Metcalf, manager for the U.S. Navy’s future aircraft carrier program office, said in a press release.

“These shock trials have tested the resiliency of Ford and her crew and provided extensive data used in the process of validating the shock hardness of the ship,” Metcalf said, adding that “the tests demonstrated and proved to the crew, fairly dramatically–that the ship will be able to withstand formidable shocks and continue to operate under extreme conditions.”

The trial blasts were conducted under safety protocols, including the trial team notifying mariners to avoid the test area before each blast, Navy officials said.

Environmental mitigation protocols were also followed to respect known migration patterns for marine life and protected species.

The trial team included more than a dozen scientists, biologists and observers, and the observers had high-powered lenses to detect marine life through ocean waves and white caps.

Ford’s Commanding Officer, Capt. Paul Lanzilotta, ordered the go/no-go decision made between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. on the day of the scheduled blast.

“Safety was always the driving consideration throughout the shock trials,” Lanzilotta said in a statement. “So, once we were ready and in position, pausing the countdown to the shot could really test our focus and persistence.”

The USS Gerald R. Ford will receive additional detailed inspections to assess any damage sustained during the shots and continue modernization and maintenance work prior to the ship’s deployment next year.

Maintenance work will include fixing four of the 11 elevators to move ordnance on the ship, which have been a problem since construction began in 2009.

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