Acting US Navy Secretary Sean Stackley said Thursday that the new carrier, the first new aircraft carrier design in 40 years, would do its sea trials before the end of May, DoDBuzz reports. These trials represent the beleaguered $13 billion carrier's last round of testing, and the vessel will be delivered to the Navy fleet afterward.
"Delivery — pending the results of acceptance trials — we expect to turn delivery around quickly after that," Stackley told the organizers of the US Naval Institute's annual meeting in Washington.
The builder's trials, which concluded in mid-April, tested the ship's basic functions. The sea trials will test the ship's power, communication and navigation systems while it is operating at sea, and will be run by the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey, according to the US Naval Institute.
The extremely complex and powerful nuclear-powered ship has been plagued by technological problems, including issues with its engines and with the electromagnetic launch systems used to propel aircraft from it. US President Donald Trump recently jumped into the mix to critique those particular gadgets, calling them "no good" and saying the Navy would be better going back to the "goddamned steam" systems of the past.
Of course, it there are further problems identified during sea trials, the ship's delivery will be delayed once more, but Stackley said he was "pretty confident" the huge ship would prove seaworthy.
After providing what former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus called "a textbook example of how not to build a ship," the Ford, more than 20 percent over budget and well past its original September 2014 delivery date, looks poised to join the Navy fleet.