Saturday, June 3, 2017

Navy Accepts Incomplete and Damaged Ford

The Navy has accepted delivery of the aircraft carrier Ford.

“The Navy accepted delivery of the first-in-class aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) on May 31, following the completion of acceptance trials on May 26 …” (1)

This continues the Navy’s practice of accepting substantially incomplete ships which began with the first LCS’s, continued with the LPD-17 class, included the Zumwalt, and now counts the Ford in this should-be criminal practice. 

The Navy issued a contract for the construction and delivery of a COMPLETE aircraft carrier.  The Navy is accepting delivery of a substantially INCOMPLETE aircraft carrier.  In fact, parts of the ship are not only incomplete but are actually damaged, as we’ve documented in previous posts.

Here’s a list of known incomplete or damaged items that the Navy just accepted.  I’m not going to document these in this post since I’ve extensively documented them in previous posts.

EMALS – cannot safely launch Hornets and Growlers with wing mounted external fuel tanks;  system cannot be electrically isolated for repairs; induces unsafe oscillations of the F-35 during launch; reliability is poor with Mean Cycles Between Critical Failure (MCBCF) – a cycle is one launch – of 340 versus the target of 4,166 – every 340 launches, you’re tossin’ a plane in the drink!

Main Turbine Generator - Ford has suffered major main turbine generator (MTG) failures (an explosion of the No. 2 MTG and a similar event with the No 1 MTG) which have crippled half the the ship’s main generators.  The No. 2 MTG is non-functional and will be repaired sometime after the ship is commissioned.

Advanced Arresting Gear – The Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) is essentially non-functional, having had to undergo recent fundamental redesigns due to equipment failures.  Further, the most recent reliability data indicates the AAG is non-functional.  The MCBCF requirement for the arresting gear is one every 16,500.  The actual MCBCF is 20.  That’s a critical failure every 20 recoveries!

Weapon Elevators – cited in 2016 DOT&E Annual Report

Berthing – insufficient berthing for the CVN-78 Service Lilfe Allowance

Dual Band Radar - testing has uncovered tracking, clutter/false
track, track continuity, and engagement support problems, according to the 2016 DOT&E Annual Report

Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS) – system has been indefinitely deferred for budgetary reasons
This is just a selection of the problems that have come to light.  There are, undoubtedly, many others.

What is the point of sea trials and inspections if you’re going to accept the ship no matter what condition it’s in?  They may as well just cancel trials and inspections and save some money. 

Not only will the Navy accept delivery of a badly damaged ship but it will also commission a badly damaged ship.  A commissioned ship is supposed to be combat ready.

This is just stupidity beyond belief.  The only justification for accepting a damaged ship is a feeble and fraudulent attempt to generate positive public relations.


(1)USNI News website, “Carrier Ford Delivers To Navy After 15 Months of Delays”, Megan Eckstein, 1-Jun-2017,


  1. Well out of 9 Directors on the Board of HII:

    Fargo and Collins are retired Admirals

    Collins is a retired Army Maj Gen

    Schievelbein, Welch and Wilson all graduated from the Naval Academy

    And Petters served as an Officer on Nuclear Submarines

    The other 2 are an accountant and Lawyer.

    What do you expect?

    1. I fear you may have missed the point of the post. The point is not how competent/incompetent, honorable/corrupt, etc. the manufacturer is. The point is that the Navy didn't have to accept an incomplete and damaged ship. The Navy could have simply declined to accept the ship until it was complete. That's the whole point of acceptance trials - to determine whether the ship is complete and ready to be delivered. In this case, it clearly was not and yet the Navy accepted it anyway.

      I'm going to venture into a legal area that I'm unqualified for and say that, until the Navy accepts delivery, the lack of a warranty is irrelevant. Prior to delivery, the manufacturer owns the ship and any repairs are the sole responsibility of the manufacturer. Just as we, the buyer, are not responsible for damage or repairs to a car we have not yet purchased, neither can the government be held responsible for a ship it has not yet purchased. Yes, a contract may have been signed but until delivery is made, the contract is not fulfilled.

      Thus, there was no reason (other than PR) to accept delivery of a faulty ship and every reason to decline it.

      The point of the post, again, was to highlight the Navy's utter stupidity bordering, literally, on criminal, in accepting an incomplete and damaged ship. This is criminal misuse of taxpayer money and an act of fraud in accepting a ship known and fully documented to be incomplete and NOT meeting the terms of the contract. CNO Richardson should be court-martialed and jailed for this.

    2. No I got point perfectly. What you are missing is the reason why the Navy brass refuse to make decisions that are good for the Navy but bad for the Contractors. A large part of it is cushy high paying jobs they get if the go along and play ball with the previous generations of retired flag officers.

    3. The retirement jobs is one of those easy targets to blame. Certainly, it's a bad practice and undoubtedly contributes to some degree to poor decisions but I really don't believe that it's a primary cause of the Navy's consistent poor decisions. For one thing, there are hundreds of retired Admirals and there just aren't that many of them on defense industry boards that are directly connected with shipbuilding. For another thing, the Navy makes consistently bad decisions about ... well ... everything! Many of those bad decisions have little or nothing to do with retirement jobs. Things like minimal manning, the LCS conceptual design, concurrent design/construction, uniform changes, allowing MCM and ASW to atrophy, and so on, have little to do with post-retirement jobs. If retirement jobs were actually a major factor, the Navy ought to be making pretty good decisions about everything that isn't directly shipbuilding related and, yet, that's not the case.

      We need to think harder and dig deeper about Navy decision making rather than take the easy path and chalk it all up to retirement jobs. That said, it's an abhorrent practice that needs to be stopped.

      It's an easy factor to blame because the practice is a blatant conflict of interest and it's indefensible but it isn't the main problem. There is some other problem that I have yet to identify.

    4. Fair enough I described the symptom because I have already identified the root cause - Careerism.

      We are selecting people for higher positions that are only focused on their Career and not accomplishments for the higher organizations or greater good.

      By extension only people that focus exclusively on their self interest are capable of this world view. So the go along to get along, don't rock the boat, look at what I can get later are the results.

      Now the solution is VERY hard and I frankly don't have a good idea. But I know we need to promote people that live, don't just act, for the greater good.

  2. I blame HII but that doesn't absolve USN from any blame. This carrier seems to be far from ready so why is USN accepting it?!?

    1. I actually don't blame HII very much. They are the assembler of the various individual components that make up the ship. Many of those components are Government Furnished Equipment over which HII has no control. EMALS, for example, was not an HII product and I can't hold them responsible for it not working. As you go down the list of incomplete or damaged items, most are not the responsibility of HII other than to install them. Whether they work or not is, more often than not, not HII's responsibility. The government provided the Dual Band Radar. Any problems with it are not HII's fault or responsibility.

      All that said, the Navy still should not have accepted an incomplete and damaged ship, as you correctly state. It may be that the government is financially responsible for many of the repairs, if it furnished the equipment, but the Navy should still not accept the ship.

      The Navy has not only failed the country and the taxpayers by accepting an incomplete and damaged ship but they are going to compound the problem by commissioning the ship while it is still incomplete and damaged. A commissioned ship is supposed to be combat ready. The Ford is anything but combat ready.

    2. As you've said, HII is not responsible for GFE not working properly. That said, I wonder if accepting an incomplete carrier is cheaper than paying HII to hold onto the ship until its fully functional.

    3. CNO, the problem is that they Navy all but accepted the ship when they signed the contract. As you have stated yourself, HII is nothing but a sub-contractor to the USN. Who's is the Navy actually accepting the ship from? I'd argue that the Navy is accepting the ship from the Navy in a purely for show ceremony. AKA, they Navy couldn't not accept since they already owned it.

    4. "Navy all but accepted the ship when they signed the contract."

      You're probably right, at least to an extent. Certainly, the govt/Navy is responsible for the GFE but HII is responsible for the unfinished compartments and the like.

      I also don't know who's responsible for the function of the EMALS, AAG, DBR, etc. Presumably it's not HII but I don't know.

      So, yes and no regarding the idea of forgone acceptance. The Navy should not accept the ship until every item that HII is responsible for is complete. Then, the Navy can accept the ship and deal with the parts the Navy is responsible for.

      Your comment also brings up a very interesting point in that the Navy is sort of the contractor and sort of not, as you suggest. The Navy needs to either be the contractor or not. This kind of, kind of not, is not working.

      Good comment.

    5. Well gents there are a few things you need to know about "ship delivery". First off Conditional Acceptance as noted on the DD254 is Normal. That means the USN has the ship EXCEPT for all the drficienies and discrepancies noted on the attached documents.
      Second it makes much more sense to take a conditional acceptance and move the ship off the building ways etc. I would presume a Lot of GFE and other sub-contractors are tied up in the systems which weren't working. So no contracting officer is going to hold the shipbuilder up because of work the govt. is responsible for.

      OTOH the main generators are probably a NNS sub, so those are up to the prime to fix. IF the generators are being built elsewhere, it would make sense to install later during a fitting out availability or the like.

    6. leesea, how do you rationalize three hundred incomplete compartments in your notion of acceptance?

    7. Leesea, now that the Navy has accepted the ship from HII, then: 1) Who has overall authority for managing the ship's current configuration; and 2) Who actually performs the day-to-day busy work of managing and coordinating the work needed either to fix deficiencies or else to make other modifications to the ship which may or may not involve deficiency resolution items and/or ship completion punch list items?

  3. Heres your answer, which CNO has mentioned before
    "Because of budget difficulties, the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, warned there might be a two-year delay beyond 2016 in completing Gerald R. Ford. The GAO reported that the price cap would be met by the Navy accepting an incomplete ship for that cost." That was back in 2014. What was truly crazy that every one was saying back then at least $1 bill above the cost cap was required but the Navy refused to accept that.
    All this posturing still means that the ship wont be fully operational till 2020.
    Thats 15 years after the first steel was cut in 2005. Along with the F35 another Rumsfeld folly

  4. CNO "All that said, the Navy still should not have accepted an incomplete and damaged ship, as you correctly state. It may be that the government is financially responsible for many of the repairs, if it furnished the equipment, but the Navy should still not accept the ship."

    The Ford original Congress cost cap was $10.5 billion and Navy was forced to return to Congress to obtain a 23% increase to $12.9 billion. So the Admirals had no option but to accept delivery of the broken and incomplete Ford to avoid any more loss of face from requesting the additional monies to complete especially from Senator John McCain. Re. the $12.9 billion then year dollars cost cap the Navy told CBO that in 2014 dollars equates to $15.0 billion. To that you must add the $4.9 billion spent on Ford R&D to last Sep 2016, with additional $0.6 billion f/c R&D to complete, which looks optimistic.

    To meet the cost cap the Navy accepted delivery of Ford with 367 compartments not completed plus correction of certain known deficiencies and installation of mission-oriented systems, Navy not disclosing specifics. These post delivery costs will no doubt be hidden in operations and maintenance, FY2018 $54.5 billion, and mission-oriented systems in other procurement, FY 2018 $8.5 billion.

    Unlikely true cost of Ford will ever know, but will be easily $20+ billion and not the oft quoted $12.9 billion.

    1. Thank Nick for the recap.

      So if it doesn't work, USN bought a $13 billion, 100K paper weight or keep fixing it and it will have cost over $20+billion to get it work....great job USN!

    2. Nick, you're quite correct that the Navy felt they had no choice but to accept the ship. However, by doing so they fail to address any of the underlying issues. It would be far better in the long run to decline the ship, face the music, and improve the overall ship procurement/construction process. By failing to do that, the Navy has ensured that the cycle of continual overruns and incomplete ships will continue.

      Sometimes it takes courage to do what's right and accept the pain that goes with it.

    3. "367 compartments not completed"

      Where did you get that? I know there's a LOT more incompleteness than I've outlined but I've been unable to get a more detailed listing. What's your source?

    4. GAO - Testimony before the Committee on Armed  Services, U.S. Senate, (McCain), FORD CLASS AIRCRAFT CARRIER Poor Outcomes Are the Predictable Consequences of the Prevalent Acquisition Culture.
      Statement of Paul L. Francis, Managing Director Acquisition and Sourcing Management; accessible version released October 1, 2015.

      Table 2: CVN 78 Planned vs. Actual Ship Construction Costs (2007-2015) p. 6

      2007 - Fully constructed ship at delivery
      2015 - Incomplete ship at delivery Work to be completed post-delivery:
      · 367 compartments
      · Correction of certain deficiencies
      · Installation of mission-oriented systems

      The devil is in the detail, legalize small print get out of jail cards provided by Congress to Navy giving them carte blanche for nearly unlimited spend outside cost cap, note exclusions to cost cap below # 4, 5, 6 & 7. Giving Navy wide latitude to allocate any spend to these items, makes the cost cap meaningless as actual spend against these items will not be reported.

      That is why despite Ford's many problems, MTGs exploding etc., and recent additional year plus delay since latest 2013 cost cap fixed with attendant additional costs the Navy spokesperson has confidently stated Ford has not exceeded $12.9 billion then year dollar cost cap.

      Notes p.2 cost cap exclusions
      The 2007 legislation allowed the Navy to make adjustments to the cost cap without seeking additional statutory authority due to:
      1) cost changes due to economic inflation;
      2) costs attributable to compliance with changes in federal, state, or local laws; 3) outfitting and post-delivery costs;
      4) cost changes related to the insertion of new technologies;
      5) cost changes due to nonrecurring design and engineering;
      6) costs associated with the correction of deficiencies that would affect the safety of the ship and personnel or otherwise preclude safe ship operation and crew certification.
      7)The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 expanded this list to include changes due to urgent and unforeseen requirements identified during shipboard testing. Pub. L. No. 113-66, § 121 (2013).


  5. All this drama over a ship that will not go into harms way because it is too expensive in blood and treasure.....

    1. That's what I've been thinking too, $20 billion and not sure it works, why do I have a feeling Ford will be a "dock queen" on :"hangar queen"...

    2. "a ship that will not go into harms way"

      Sadly, I fear you're correct.

    3. Sadly, I fear it will. I'm just dreading the shock trails ...

  6. EMALS/AAG like drones, because of theshiny toy fascination. Big time development items chosen for insertion too early...bad decisions made during a war being waged against beards crazies because the wow factor and R&M fantasies was too bright a shiny object....

  7. looks like a decent platform for AH-64s, SH-60s, V-22s and a coupla F-35Bs. You don't need no stinkin EMALS and AAG.
    As Frito used to say "if you can't hover you're queer".

    Nothing will come of this disaster other than Legion of Merit pointy medal awards for all.

    1. QE class will do this for a fraction of the cost.

  8. Navy acquisition is just broken. We make the old Soviets who accepted tanks with faulty autoloaders look good.

    We have the Navy playing political games because it allows the admirals to advance; allows the navy to continue getting the valued budget slice, and allows the Congress critters to look good by bringing home the bacon and 'standing up for defense. I've said it before, this is a national security issue. We likely have a looming budget crisis where more and more money will be taken up making direct payments to SSI and the debt, so the armed forces budget slices will likely get smaller.

    We either get a handle on this or end up having a Japan sized fleet for 3X the price. Or worse, a large fleet of showboats.

    "EMALS system cannot be electrically isolated for repairs"

    What does this mean in practice? They have to shut down the reactors to service emals? I mean.... what about trying to repair battle damage? Or just that one 'quirk' that might be easily fixed but you have to shut down large chunks of the ship to do it?

    1. It means that they can't continue flight ops while making repairs on one cat. The entire catapult electrical system has to be shut down. How far reaching that shutdown is, I don't know. DOT&E has described it in a fair amount of detail.

      How someone at the design stage didn't notice this is beyond me.

    2. So, in a hypothetical war scenario, if you damage 1 catapult, you have to shut them ALL DOWN?!? Am I reading this right? Who the hell let that design go thru?!?

    3. EMALS has other problems, as well. As you know, the catapult is a series of immensely powerful electric motors. Unbelievably, there was no electromagnetic shielding built in. Thus, the motors radiate immense electromagnetic radiation. They are, essentially, giant beacons to any enemy that cares to listen. Remember the old EMCON (emissions control - zero emissions) procedures? All electrical equipment had a shielded mode, to put simplistically. EMALS, despite being a huge electrical radiation source, has no shielding. Ford will be the most easily trackable ship in the Navy!

      I get the impression that EMALS was a science fair project. The developers were only concerned with the technical task of hurling an object down a track. They gave no thought to repairability, damage control, combat considerations, etc. I can understand that from a bunch of scientists but why the Navy didn't step in and insist on these things early on, I have no idea. Just more of the never-ending baffling actions, or lack thereof, by a seemingly utterly incompetent Navy leadership.

  9. If it was never shielded I wonder if it might interfere with coms as well.


    In the age of missiles that can be tweaked to home in on certain types of emissions the Ford is going to be like a Christmas tree in a dark room.

  10. EMALS promised smoother launches, and still states that. So I threw a BS flag when this was announced:

    EMALS – cannot safely launch Hornets and Growlers with wing mounted external fuel tanks;

    The excuse was that the launch stresses the attachment points. With a smoother launch?

    I think EMALS is unable to launch a fully loaded Hornet with extra fuel and bombs. It lacks the power! Ask what the heaviest load EMALS has demonstrated ashore to learn the truth.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. I usually take war is boring with a grain of salt, but this article is damning. It has a lot of what CNO says and a touch more.


Comments will be moderated for posts older than 7 days in order to reduce spam.