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Debating the past, questioning the future of USS Ford-class of carrier

The first-in-class had had numerous problems. The top leader says the Navy may not stick with the Ford design.

WASHINGTON — New questions are being raised about the USS Gerald R. Ford's past and its future.

The aircraft carrier came in late, billions of dollars over budget, and -- nearly two years after its commissioning -- it is still unable to deploy into combat.

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that "substantial progress" has been made on the Ford's troubled weapons elevators. But, he acknowledged that the entire development process for the Ford has been deeply flawed.

"It's not a good history and it's one that we should never allow to happen again," he said. "It's not the way we should be delivering ships to the U.S. Navy."

Under questioning, Modly admitted that the Navy may not stick with the Ford design.

"We have a duty to look at what will come after the Ford, and the fact that we have made a two-carrier buy for the last two, it gives us some breathing room... a few years before we have to award the next one in the 2027-2028 time-frame," he said.

Last December at Newport News Shipbuilding, the Navy and former First Daughter Caroline Kennedy christened the next Ford Class carrier, the future USS John F. Kennedy. It is said to be 67 percent complete.

RELATED: Future USS John F. Kennedy christened at Newport News Shipbuilding

The shipyard is expected to host a keel-laying ceremony for the third Ford-class carrier, the future USS Enterprise, in 2022.

In January, the Navy announced that it has decided to name the fourth Ford Class carrier, currently known as CVN-81, after Doris "Dorie" Miller, a mess attendant who heroically leaped into combat during the bombing of Pearl Harbor, marking the first time that an aircraft carrier has been named for an African-American.

RELATED: Navy names aircraft carrier for Pearl Harbor hero Doris Miller

As for Modly, his job is only temporary. Last Friday, President Donald J. Trump announced that he will nominate Kenneth Braithwaite, the current US ambassador to Norway, to be his next permanent Secretary of the Navy.

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