NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) - Newport News Shipbuilding reached a milestone Friday, successfully lifting the heaviest unit, to date, onto an aircraft carrier.
The gallery deck to flight deck bridge assembly, which weighed 1,026 metric tons, was lifted onto the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford Thursday.
"This is the heaviest unit to be moved during the ship's construction and the largest lift our crane has ever made," said Rolf Bartschi, vice president of CVN 78 carrier construction.
The unit's weight is comparable to the weight of six Boeing 747 commercial airplanes. The shipyard's 1,050-metric-ton gantry crane is one of the largest in the Western Hemisphere.
"This lift represents the strategic construction improvements of the Ford-class carriers," said Bartschi. "The concept during design of the ship was to build larger units than were built on the Nimitz-class carriers, resulting in fewer crane lifts to the dry dock. This lift is a significant achievement for our shipbuilding team on this first-of-class ship and reflects the pride and capability of the entire team."
Construction of the Gerald R. Ford is 88 percent complete, with 435 of its nearly 500 structural lifts completed. NNS began the work in November 2009 and the Ford is scheduled to launch in 2013, with delivery to the Navy set for 2015.
The Ford represents the next-generation of aircraft carriers, which features a new nuclear power plant, a redesigned island, electromagnetic catapults, improved weapons movement, an enhanced flight deck capable of increased aircraft sortie rates, and growth margin for future technologies and reduced manning, according to a news release.
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