US Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class Aircraft Carrier Program: Background and Issues for Congress
Congressional Research Service
February 5, 2019
CVN-78, CVN-79, CVN-80, and CVN-81 are the first four ships in the Navy’s new Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (CVNs).

CVN-78 (named for Gerald R. Ford) was procured in FY2008. The Navy’s proposed FY2019budget estimates the ship’s procurement cost at $12,964.0 million (i.e., about $13.0 billion) in then-year dollars. The ship received advance procurement (AP) funding in FY2001-FY2007 and was fully funded in FY2008-FY2011 using congressionally authorized four-year incremental funding.

To help cover cost growth on the ship, the ship received an additional $1,394.9 million in FY2014-FY2016 and FY2018 cost-to-complete procurement funding.

The ship was delivered to the Navy on May 31, 2017, and was commissioned into service on July 22, 2017.

The following three ships are due to be delivered to the US Navy in Sept. 2024 (for CVN-79), Sept. 2027 (CVN-80) and Sept. 2032 for CVN-81.

Oversight issues for Congress for the CVN-78 program for FY2019 include the following:

-- whether to approve, reject, or modify the Navy’s FY2019 procurement funding requests for the CVN-78 program;

-- the date for achieving the Navy’s 12-ship force-level goal for aircraft carriers.

-- cost growth in the CVN-78 program, Navy efforts to stem that growth, and Navy efforts to manage costs so as to stay within the program’s cost caps;

-- Navy efforts to complete the construction, testing, and certification of the weapon elevators on CVN-78;

-- additional CVN-78 program issues that were raised in a December 2018 report from the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E);

-- whether to conduct the shock trial for the CVN-78 class in the near term, on the lead ship in the class, or years later, on the second ship in the class; and

-- whether the Navy should shift at some point from procuring large-deck, nuclear-powered carriers like the CVN-78 class to procuring smaller aircraft carriers.

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