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Navy aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford could be delivered in April

Sailors assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford, polish the capstone inside the ship's forecastle on Feb. 22, 2016.

KRISTOPHER RUIZ/U.S. NAVY

By HUGH LESSIG | The Daily Press (Tribune News Service) | Published: January 12, 2017

The Navy has made "significant progress" on the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford and the first-in-class ship could be delivered in April, a Navy spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The Navy has scheduled sea trials in March and April, said Capt. Thurraya Kent. Delivery to the Navy would take place in April, pending the results of sea trials.

The ship has faced numerous technological hurdles that have led to delays and cost overruns. Its original delivery date was September 2015.

But overall the ship is now 99 percent complete, while testing on electronics, propulsion and hull mechanical/electrical is also more than 90 percent finished, Kent said.

The ship is pier side at Newport News Shipbuilding, the only shipyard that builds nuclear-powered aircraft carriers for the Navy. The shipyard is a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries.

The $12.9 billion ship, packed with new technology, has had an on-again, off-again delivery schedule. The Navy, the shipyard and major subcontractors have worked to overcome problems with electromagnetic catapults designed to launch aircraft from the flight deck, as well as new arresting gear that would allow them to safely land.

New weapons elevators and radar systems have also caught the attention of Pentagon weapons testers.

Finally, a troublesome electrical issue surfaced in June and continued throughout the year.

In June 2016, a memo from J. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon's director of operational test and evaluation, cited unresolved concerns about key systems.

In October, an underdog presidential candidate backed a plan to boost the Navy fleet by a whopping 30 percent. That candidate is now the incoming commander-in-chief, and it's still his plan.

The Navy has since added a significant amount of detail to President-elect

In October, an underdog presidential candidate backed a plan to boost the Navy fleet by a whopping 30 percent. That candidate is now the incoming commander-in-chief, and it's still his plan.

In September, the Navy backed away from a planned November delivery date and declined to predict when it would be delivered.

Then in early November, Vice Adm. Tom Moore said the Navy was making progress isolating and fixing the electrical problem, which has been blamed on a defective component. He also expressed optimism that other systems, including the advanced arresting gear, were moving forward.

At the time, Moore predicted the Navy would have a delivery date certain by the end of 2016.

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