The new head of the Senate Armed Services panel says he’s leery of backing the Pentagon’s plan to buy two aircraft carriers in one contract so long as contractor Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. is struggling to fix the elevators needed to lift bombs from below deck.
“I think the case for two right now is weaker because of the lack of success in getting everything working” on the USS Gerald R. Ford, the first vessel in the new class of carriers, Senator James Inhofe said in an interview. The Oklahoma Republican spoke after joining Navy officials in a visit Monday to the Huntington Ingalls shipyard in Newport News, Virginia.
Inhofe recalled that his last such visit was in 2015, when the Navy said that the $13 billion Ford was on the cusp of delivery. It was delivered in May 2017, but the contractor hasn’t completed installing, testing and certifying its 11 munitions elevators.
Navy Secretary Richard Spencer told reporters in August that the elevators are “our open Achilles Heel.”
Read more: Costliest Carrier Was Delivered Without Elevators to Lift Bombs
The Navy plans to complete installation and testing of the 11 elevators before the Ford completes its post-delivery shakedown phase in July, Captain Danny Hernandez, a Navy spokesman, said in an email. Six will also be certified for use by then, but five won’t be completed until after July, he said. “A dedicated team is engaged on these efforts and will accelerate this certification work and schedule where feasible,” he said. (end of excerpt)
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