Making the world’s most cutting-edge aircraft carrier
NEWPORT NEWS, Va.—I’m staring down into a pit in which the beginnings of what will one day be the most advanced aircraft carrier on Earth are already well under way.
This is the dry dock of CVN-78, otherwise known as the Gerald R. Ford, the first in a technologically advanced new class of aircraft carriers known as, yes, the Gerald R. Ford, and yes, named after the 38th president of the United States. A new class of naval vessel is always known by the name of the first model, it seems.
CVN-78 is being built by Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, and inside the dry dock, a 2,200-foot-long pit that is sunk down feet below the ground surrounding it, workers have completed 15 percent of this giant ship. Already, after three years of construction, the various levels of the vessel are coming into shape, much like an office building under construction. They’ve built it up 35 feet from the bottom of the dry dock so far.