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The US Navy performs the first of three explosions in the crash tests of the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford




The aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford undergoes “crash tests” to show whether the ship can withstand combat conditions. (Video: US Navy)

WASHINGTON The US Navy carried out the first of three explosions in the water near the first-in-class aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford, initiating the full-ship crash test process on a powered flattop nuclear for the first time in 34 years.

The Navy’s crash test event, the first of its kind on any class of ship since 2016, aims to prove that the new aircraft carrier can withstand a blow in combat. The ship will suffer two more explosions scheduled for June and July, Lt. Cmdr. Desired frame. a Ford spokeswoman told Defense News.

In a crash test, a ship suffered three detonations of 40,000 pound explosive charges that occurred successively closer to the ship, she said. The exact dates for each event depend on sea conditions, weather, marine mammal activity, and other factors.

Aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford conducts the first scheduled explosive event of full-ship crash tests while underway in the Atlantic Ocean on June 18. (MC3 Riley McDowell / US Navy)

Frame said the first explosion, which occurred on June 18 about 100 miles off Palm Coast, Florida, was planned by the Navy on a tight schedule that meets environmental mitigation requirements, respecting known migration patterns of marine life in the test area.

She said the remaining two explosions, which will use the same explosive but occur closer to the water of the ship’s hull, will also take weather and wildlife factors into consideration.

Prior to the explosion, the Navy planned the event using advanced computer modeling methods, testing and analysis to ensure the ship is toughened to withstand combat conditions, and these shock tests provide data used to validate the impact hardness of the vessel, Frame said.

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Ford Commanding Officer Captain Paul Lanzilotta told reporters aboard the aircraft carrier in May that as you walked around the ship, if you have a keen eye and have been on many aircraft carriers, you will see additional threads and things like that. All of these are connected to sensors and data acquisition systems that were to be used to measure the performance of ships during explosions.

Sailors assigned to Ford’s supply department wear firefighting gear during a general watch exercise June 9. The US Navy uses live explosives for shock testing of new ship models, confirming that warships can meet demanding mission requirements in combat. (MC3 Brett Walker / US Navy)

He said fragile items such as decorations in his cabin in the harbor and elsewhere commemorating the namesake President Gerald Ford, for example, as well as items not intended for combat, would be removed from the ship in advance.

There are things on the ship that we know are not intended for a battle shock scenario, like a commercially purchased printer that you hook up to your computer, he said. These printers weren’t designed to withstand ship crash testing, so they would take them off the ship and save the taxpayer the expense that we already know they would likely incur. It’s a lot of work when you have a ship with 5,000 seats in it, so we have to get all our gear ready.

We were also going to prepare the crew so the crew has to know what to expect, they have to practice their damage control procedures because this is something we all have to be good at, and when we shock the ship, we need to make sure we have the ship in as ready as possible a condition.

The crew was on board during the Friday event and ready to respond to any leak, fire or any other damage that may occur as a result of the explosion. The Navy did not disclose specific information on how the hull handled the explosion, other than saying the event was successful.

Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Jinaki Boston, assigned to the Aircraft Carrier Gerald R. Ford Supply Department, reports a mock casualty during a headquarters exercise June 9. (MC3 Brett Walker / US Navy)

The last aircraft carrier to undergo full-ship crash tests was Theodore Roosevelt in 1987. The Cruiser Mobile Bay also underwent crash tests that year. The amphibious assault ship Wasp underwent shock testing in 1990, the Mesa Verde amphibious transport dock in 2008, and the Freedom Milwaukee variant littoral combat ship and the Independence variant LCS Jackson in 2016.

Crash tests are generally not performed on first class ships, although the Wasp was first in its class of LHD and performed the test, but Congress asked the Navy to put the Ford, which has been delivered to the Navy years after its original schedule, through testing as soon as possible after testing and postpartum testing.

Once the crash tests are complete, Ford will enter a maintenance period expected to last six months, during which any damage caused by the impacts will be repaired and the latest computer and system upgrades will be installed before the ship does begin training for its first deployment, which will take place. from 2022.

Sailors assigned to the Ford Brace for Shock during a headquarters exercise June 8. (MC3 Angel Thuy Jaskuloski / US Navy) Sailors assigned to the Ford assemble at their respective life raft stations during an abandoned ship training evolution in the ship’s hangar on June 8 (MC3 Angel Thuy Jaskuloski / US Navy)

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