August 1, 2017

Some Wonders of the New Ford Class Carrier

So much can be said about the first Ford class supercarrier commissioned July 22, 2017. But I won't cover all. Instead I'll lift a few choice facts from National Interest.

The lead ship, Gerald R. Ford is:

" powered by two new-design AB1 nuclear reactors...manufactured by Bechtel, which...together...create six hundred megawatts of electricity, triple the two hundred megawatts of the Nimitz class."

"...Ford will also have the most modern radar systems in the fleet. The Ford will have the new Dual Band Radar [DBR], which combines both the X-Band AN/SPY-3 Aegis radar and the S-Band Volume Surveillance Radar. DBR is capable of search, track and multiple missile illumination, detecting enemy aircraft and missiles and then guiding Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM) to intercept.

For self-defense, Ford will have two Mk. 29 missile launchers with eight ESSM each, and two Rolling Airframe Missile launchers. It will also have four Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems for point defense against aircraft, missiles and small ships, and four M2 .50 caliber machine guns. Ford’s generous electrical capacity means that the ship could someday mount laser self-defense weapons. Powered by the ship’s nuclear reactors, such a system would have a virtually limitless ammunition supply, vastly increasing the ship’s defensive capability."

"...USS John F. Kennedy, the second aircraft carrier to bear the name of the thirty-fifth president of the United States, is under construction at Newport News and expected to enter service in 2020. The third carrier, Enterprise, is expected to begin construction next year and will join the fleet in the early 2020s. The current push by President Donald Trump and the chief of naval operations to a 350–355-ship fleet will likely include at least one additional Ford-class carrier in the near term."

This Youtube neatly sums up the National Interest article.

The Ford's new features. This image is at 50+ websites around the world - including much larger ones (just right-click-mouse Search Google for image).



Ztev Konrad said...

Regarding the builder of the reactor Bechtel, one of the largest privately owned companies in the US. The actual design and construction is done at US government owned 'atomic power laboratories', Bechtel is just the contractor who runs these facilities.
Previously the Knolls Atomic Laboratory which is in Niskayuna NY was operated by General Electric , then Lockheed Martin and specialised in submarine reactors, while the Bettis Atomic laboratory, in a suburb of Pittsburgh was operated by Westinghouse and specialised in surface vessel reactors ( now soley aircraft carriers). Both are now operated by Bechtel.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Ztev

Thanks for that research.

Another part or aspect to the story is Admiral Rickover's contribution and leadership in most aspects of naval nuclear reactors from the 1940s onwards

Separately are more technical details on the Ford class reactors :

"The new Bechtel A1B reactor for the Ford-class is smaller and simpler, requires fewer crew, and yet is far more powerful than the Nimitz-class A4W reactor. Two reactors will be installed on each Ford-class carrier, each one capable of producing 300 MW of electricity, triple the 100 MW of each A4W.[29][30]

The propulsion and power plant of the Nimitz-class carriers was designed in the 1960s, when onboard technologies did not require the same quantity of electrical power that modern technologies do. "New technologies added to the Nimitz-class ships have generated increased demands for electricity; the current base load leaves little margin to meet expanding demands for power."[31]"



Ztev Konrad said...

The nuclear reactors dont directly create the electrical power . The normal process for reactors is create high pressure and temperature steam which drive turbines which turn the propellors. The electrcity side is the usual method of using a lower pressure steam to run motor-turbo- generators, 4 in the case of the GRF CVN-78. These
MTG are causing problems- as it it doesnt have enough problems- as described in this story
The basic cause of these many issues is 'concurrency' the notorious development process bought in under Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld which has affected the F35, LCS and the GRF carrier.

Glenardo said...

suggest you remove the home made video. Notice how it features Russian reactors.

Peter Coates said...

Hi again Ztev

The Ford certainly has chronic problems.

A finely crafted article from Next Navy, Aug 2, 2017 points out additional problems.

As if in response to those who would say "of course such a vast, complex, weapon system would have many problems" indicates

"I suspect that the USS Ford will have the longest period between commissioning and first combat patrol of any nuclear carrier ever built.

The ground-breaking USS Enterprise was out operating in the Mediterranean and supporting the Cuban Quarantine a mere year after commissioning, and the first-in-class USS Nimitz was sent out on patrol little more than year after commissioning on 7 July 1976."



Peter Coates said...

Hi Glenardo [at 3/8/17 11:11 AM]

You're correct. Two minutes into the Youtube Russia's RITM-200 reactor is featured.

It is so frequent for journalists to post the wrong images of submarines that a wrong reactor is easy to mistake.

I'm not sure whether the many other reactor images are Russian or American?



MHalblaub said...

Dear Pete,

The smallest problem is the ship. An aircraft carrier should carry a powerful strike force. The US Navy once had these force: F-14 for air defense, A-6 for bomb runs, Prowlers for electronic arts, Hawkeye, Greyhounds, ... today the single seater F/A-18 is thought to does it all even as tanker! - no fun about F-35C.
The electric catapult... they should have asked someone with knowledge on that field (see e.g. Apollo program or Transrapid).

First the US need a respectable president and then better aircraft carriers but carriers last longer than two terms....