U.S. Navy’s Costliest Warship Suffers New Failure at Sea - Bloomberg
The Gerald R. Ford, the U.S. Navy’s costliest warship, suffered a new failure at sea that forced it back to port and raised fresh questions about the new class of aircraft carriers.
The previously undisclosed problem with a propulsion system bearing, which occurred in January but has yet to be remedied, comes as the Navy is poised to request approval from a supportive Congress to expedite a contract for a fourth carrier in what was to have been a three-ship class. It’s part of a push to expand the Navy’s 284-ship fleet to 355 as soon as the mid-2030s.
The Naval Sea Systems Command said the Ford experienced “an out of specification condition” with a propulsion system component. Huntington Ingalls determined it was due to a “manufacturing defect,” the command said, and “not improper operation” by sailors. The defect “affects the same component” located in other parts of the propulsion system, the Navy added.
Couch and Huntington Ingalls spokesman Beci Brenton declined to say who made the bearing that failed.
But General Electric Co. is responsible for the propulsion system part, and the Navy program office said in an assessment that an inspection of the carrier’s four main thrust bearings after the January failure revealed “machining errors” by GE workers at a Lynn, Massachusetts, facility “during the original manufacturing” as “the actual root cause.”
Deborah Case, a GE spokeswoman, said in an email that “GE did produce the gears for the CVN-78. However, we are no longer producing gears for CVN-78” and “we cannot comment on the investigation.”