Lee Hudson, Inside Defense, URL Unavailable
22 February 2016
Delivery of the Navy's multibillion-dollar Ford-class aircraft carrier lead ship may be delayed by up to three months, according to the shipbuilder and fiscal year 2017 budget justification documents.
Huntington Ingalls Industries Chief Executive Officer Mike Petters said Feb. 18 during a quarterly earnings call that his company is doing everything it can to deliver the Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78).
"We expect that to happen in the middle of the year," he added. "There is a sequence from builders' trials to delivery that we go through, and so the team down there is committed to getting it done as quickly as possible."
The Navy's FY-17 budget request reveals CVN-78 delivery is delayed by one quarter -- from the second quarter to the third quarter of FY-16 -- compared to the previous year's budget documents. The service set aside $70 million in FY-17 and $318 million over the future years defense plan for preparatory work for the carrier's delivery.
"As I said earlier, the ship is complete," Petters said. "We're testing systems now that have been installed, and not only are we testing the systems themselves, kind of, is the system working the way that it was designed to work, we're also testing does it work with the other systems the way its supposed to work too."
Petters said integration for a lead ship is a "big challenge," and he does not "want to commit to any specific date on the schedule, what I'm going to tell you is it's going to go as quick as we can get it out."
Further, Petters said the service's FY-17 budget request is a "great indication" the Ohio-class replacement ballistic missile submarine program is on track and discussion will continue this year on how to fund the program.
"On the Ohio Replacement Program, I've been pretty vocal about, we've got to find a separate source of money, we got to find more money for the shipbuilding budget to handle the Ohio Replacement Program, because it could and it's big enough, so that it would crowd out other shipbuilding," he said. "I think this is going to be a discussion that we're going to have for the next five to 10 years, really is how we're going to pay for the program and how comfortable can we do it inside the Navy's budget."
Petters said there is a lot of discussion about various funding mechanisms to pay for the next-generation ballistic missile sub but from his standpoint the company is agnostic on which option is most suitable.
"What we really need to see is that the funding is there without affecting other programs, and that's what happens in this budget and that's what looks like is happening in the Navy's plan by and large," he added.
In the years the Navy builds the Ohio-class replacement sub the service will also build one Virginia-class attack submarine per year. Petters said it is more of a "complex challenge" for the industrial base to build one Ohio-class replacement sub and one Virginia-class sub than building two Virginia-class subs per year.
The service in its FY-17 request set aside $773 million in advanced procurement to pay for the lead Ohio replacement ship that will be built in FY-21 and $11.7 billion over the FYDP, according to budget documents. -- Lee Hudson