NEWPORT NEWS, Va. --- The aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford is expected to head to sea this week for its first round of sea trials, a top Navy officer said Monday.
The $12.9 billion next-generation warship had been poised to pull out Tuesday, but weather concerns scuttled those plans, sources said.
"I would expect the ship to get out to sea in the near term and probably this week," said Vice Adm. Tom Moore, who heads Naval Sea Systems Command. Moore said the Navy could take delivery of the ship in late April or early May.
Moore spoke with reporters after a panel discussion at the Sea-Air-Space exposition being held at the Gaylord National Convention Center in National Harbor, Md.
The Ford has suffered through a series of delays, much of it due to growing pains with new technology. That includes electromagnetic catapults and aircraft arresting gear that uses water-twister technology.
But now the Ford is showing progress just as the Trump administration wants to proceed full speed ahead with expanding the fleet, which includes an extra aircraft carrier.
Nuclear-powered aircraft carriers are built exclusively by Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries.
The carrier has successfully concluded a "fast cruise," a simulated underway period where the ship remains pier side, Moore said.
The initial round of at-sea tests are known as builder's trials, where the ship's basic systems are put through rigorous checks. Then Ford will go through a brief period of downtime, the length of which depends on what is found during builder's trials, Moore said.
The next step is acceptance trials, with Navy inspectors on board. Following that is delivery. (end of excerpt)
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