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HII has laid the keel block of the aircraft carrier Enterprise (CVN-80) on Tuesday, USNI News has learned.
The seventh U.S. warship named after the Revolutionary War sloop, Enterprise formally began fabrication at HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding yard in Virginia, Rear Adm. James Downey, the program executive officer for carriers, told USNI News on Tuesday.
The start of fabrication comes three weeks ahead of schedule and as the carrier is about 13 percent done, Downey said.
Enterprise will be the third Gerald Ford-class aircraft carrier and is expected to deliver to the Navy in 2028. HII and the service will have a formal ceremony marking the occasion in August, USNI News understands.
Enterprise and follow-on ship the future USS Doris Miller (CVN-81) were bought as part of a block-buy strategy estimated to be valued at $24 billion, as part of a 2019 deal with HII. Miller is expected to deliver to the fleet by 2032.
News of the milestone comes as the Navy confirmed the first-in-class USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) had reached initial operational capacity in December. The quiet declaration means is now in material shape to deploy followed the delivery of the carrier’s 11th Advanced Weapons Elevator. The carrier commissioned in 2017 with none of the elevators delivered and working out the kinks in the system was a major roadblock for the program.
Last month, Ford completed a six-month availability following full-ship shock trails in which the Navy detonated 40,000-ton of explosives in a durability test of the carrier’s design. The carrier is now due to begin workups before an anticipated fall patrol.
Newport News is currently working on the three future Fords — John F. Kennedy (CVN-79), Enterprise and Miller – as well as the mid-life overhaul of USS George Washington (CVN-73) and USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74). The hulk of the decommissioned aircraft carrier Enterprise (CVN-65) is also at the yard.