CVN 78 Construction & Facilities

On Sept. 10, 2008 Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding received a $5.1 billion, 7-year contract award for detail design and construction of the Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Advance construction of the Gerald R. Ford began in 2005 to allow shipbuilders to test the design-build strategy, exercise new processes, prototype new features used on this ship before the overall construction contract was awarded, and to build a sufficient backlog of ship units to support production, undocking and delivery. More than one third of the ship's 1,200 structural units are currently under construction.

The ship's keel will be laid Nov. 14, 2009.

Delivery to the Navy is scheduled for 2015.

Click here to view CVN 78 construction photos.


Northrop Grumman has made several capital investments to enable the Ford class to be the best and most efficiently built aircraft carrier. These investments include new facilities that allow employees to work under cover, uninterrupted by the weather, and house additional cranes to build pre-outfitting units to a higher degree of completion than all previous carriers

Heavy Plate Bay Facility: An addition to the Steel Fabrication Shop provides space (about an acre) for new burning equipment and a 5,000-ton press needed to process thick plate structures for the Ford class. The Heavy Plate Bay Facility provides Newport News’ fabrication shop capabilities not previously available.

Covered Modular Assembly Facility (CMAF): a 3-acre facility, is designed to support the assembly and outfitting of steel modules for CVN 21 and will boast two 100-ton cranes, a 50-ton crane and wide-access doors.

Covered Modular Outfitting Facility (CMOF): a 1.2-acre facility on the final assembly platen adjacent to Dry Dock 12, will feature rolling roofs that will allow units to be lifted out of the building and into the dry dock.

Unit Assembly Facility (UAF): a half-acre facility with one 25-ton bridge crane and two 12-ton cranes, will feature a clean room and component preparation area.

900-Ton Crane Upgrade: Newport News’ signature 900-ton crane was upgraded to lift 1,050 tons, allowing for larger, heavier lifts and a much more efficient build strategy. Thicker plating, more early outfitting and larger units will make the units for the Ford class heavier than Nimitz-class units.

Pier 3: A new pier supports outfitting and testing for new construction and overhaul. Its multi-level design will provide space for a tool room and drawing vaults as well as enclosed work spaces for engineers, planners and trades personnel.