Military-Grade Awesome, Uncategorized

Christening of the Next Generation Aircraft Carrier – Gerald R. Ford

USS Ford

This morning the new “Next Generation” aircraft carrier, the Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) was christened during ceremonies in the Newport News Shipbuilding facilities, Hampton Roads Virginia… you can watch a replay of the ceremonies here.

At 1,080 feet long, 100 feet high, a beam of 134 feet and 250 feet wide at the Flight-Deck, this behemoth used around 47,000 tons of steel and will have over 90,000 tons of displacement.

Replacing the ex-USS Enterprise, it is the first entirely new class of U.S. aircraft carrier in 45 years since the Nimitz of 1968. The island is 140 feet further aft than previous designs and its three aircraft elevators are electromagnetic – doing away with the traditional cable-hoisting. (I wonder if they are still keeping the old-style warning horns? Those things were cool.)

But the BIG news is the Navy’s new EMALS system, which translates into landlubber speak as the “Electro-Magnetic Aircraft Launch System”. This modern technology does away with the steam-powered catapults that have flung aircraft into the sky for the last half-century, which is both exciting and a little sad. Some of the most iconic images of the US Navy are Flight-Deck-Workers “Deck-Apes” in action amidst swirling clouds of steam, a scene that could become obsolete in the next decade.


On a related note however, one of the big news items for the ship’s crew is the arrival of electric water heaters to replace the steam-powered bastards versions that have scalded and doused sailors in sudden blasts of ice water and volcanic steam for several generations. You just never knew what kind of pain would come out of the shower-head making the simple act of bathing one of the most terrifying and dangerous parts of being at sea.


Old shower stalls of DOOM!!

Again, future generations of sailors will never know the nostalgia of having frostbite, 3rd degree burns and a big-ol-knot on the head from trying to get away in one 5 minute shower of horror.

10,000,000 feet of electrical cabling and 4,000,000 of fiber optical cabling connect the High Technology electronics and weapons systems, and allow the ship to handle the launch and recovery of both manned and unmanned aircraft.

This will be the first vessel Skynet attempts to gain control over after it gains self-awareness. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near this ship when that happens.

With an anticipated 50 year life-span, this ship will someday witness a future that could exceed our wildest dreams. If there’s still anyone left made of meat to do so.

And so on the Veteran’s day weekend, all of us here at Atomic Toasters would like to welcome the US Navy’s newest “Plank-Owners” to the fleet, and congratulate the shipbuilders on a job well done.



Sources: Wikipedia, and the Department of the Navy

  • cruisintime

    5000 shipbuilders and contractors from 46 states built parts of this ship. 200,000 gallons of paint. The unique thing is that it is designed to be upgraded, that is a breakthrough.

  • Felis_Concolor

    Wot, no thermostats?

    I am slightly sad that I cannot share how this relates to my morning at the workplace.

  • Two billion dollars over budget (118% of budget) and still only 70% complete. The electromagnetic motivators that replace the steam catapult are driven by electricity from a steam powered turbine, with acceptable losses. DOD logic is like Bistro Math to me.

    • We lost a few folks when a steampipe ruptured on my first ship. One of them folks was from my hometown whom I knew, in my sister's class. The advantages of transferring the energy to the cats via electricity instead is VERY real indeed and multifaceted.

      As far as using steam to drive the turbines, well, it's a nuclear powered ship. ALL it's power comes from steam. That's pretty much how boiler-based ships work. The older conventional ships did exactly the same thing but used bunker-oil for their heat source. Trust me, on a 6 month cruise the ONE thing you never run out of is water.

      In boot-camp they taught us to check for leak sources by waving an old broomstick in front of the suspected leak. You won't be able to see the source due to all the pressure, but you will find it when the stream of super-heated air cuts your stick in half.

      Now they can launch planes it without all those pesky pipes running all over the $#@% place, blowing up and killing your friends with deadly steam leaks.

      As far as budget goes, it's like you've never seen the Navy build a new aircraft carrier before. These were the same bits of sky-falling hoopla that dominated the news between my cartoons way back in 1975 with the Nimitz. And pretty much every year, every ship/plane/missile/hammer since.

      That will not change any millennium soon.

      • skitter

        Also, defense and aerospace projects are probably the only projects on the planet that come close to being properly engineered, built, and maintained, and we don't need very many of them, and all of these things cost money, and that's before any problems are run into.

        • Hmm… ZomBee Racer's friend and shipmates may argue the point about being properly designed or maintained. I'll concede that electricity is more easily managed, though no less deadly when improperly engineered or maintained, than live steam.
          As for astronomical cost overruns being ho-hum that's just DOD being DOD well what can you do you can't fight City Hall etc. etc… that's just pathetic.

          Anyway, this might get too close to politics for this forum; let's play Quantum Quixotic Quandary instead!

  • cruisintime

    Could this be the last US aircraft carrier ever built ?

    • B72

      Hard telling not knowing.

    • Maybe the last one for MANNED aircraft the way things are going.

    • In the future, our new Chinese masters will build them. That is, unless they figure out that economic might trumps military might.

  • The USS Gerald Ford, huh? Better be careful on those ladders.

    • I beg your pardon?

      • Both Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld served as his Chiefs of Staff. Bush the Elder was runner up to be his Veep. I don't know why but I find those facts fascinating.

      • B72

        Hardly had to beg.

  • B72

    A technical article on EMALS would be cool. Do we have any details on that, or is it classified?

    The last time I checked in on rail gun technology, they were struggling with reusability (the rails were getting consumed). Also I'm not sure how to throttle it. Anyone know how they overcame these drawbacks?

    • monkey_tennis

      Not sure how the EMALS itself works, but I assume that they'll just use dry ice to recreate the 'Danger Zone' visual effects.

      [youtube UVRUxtPKK-w&feature=player_detailpage youtube]
      (cheesy backlit effects from 1:02 onwards)

      • Vairship

        Plus you get the cool effect of all the crews's watches, ear rings etcetera accelerating down the deck along with the aircraft!

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