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USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier may go $1.1 billion over budget

The aircraft carrier is being constructed by Newport News Shipbuilding and is set for commissioning in 2015.
Credit: WVEC

NEWPORT NEWS The latest aircraft carrier being crafted at Newport News Shipbuilding boasts a lot of new features, but it also comes with a much higher price tag than originally forecast.

The USS Gerald R. Ford, named after the nation's 38th president, is on track to go way over budget.

As lead ship of its class, the Ford will have a larger flight deck, a smaller island, and a new propulsion plant.

Newport News may go more than $1 billion over budget on the Ford. The Navy now estimates a worst case scenario of $1.1 billion in over-runs. That's 21% above the target of $5.16 billion for the total cost of the ship's construction.

In a statement, spokeswoman Christie Miller said the yard is seeing improvement in its performance on the Ford.

'Although this is a first-in-class ship, with the unique challenges that come with that we anticipate we will further increase efficiencies and continue to retire risk associated with a first-in-class ship in the four years that remain until delivery,' Miller wrote.

The shipyard released a list of examples of steps it's taking to control costs and improve efficiency. Included in that list was designating a senior vice president and total ship construction superintendent for oversight of the aircraft carrier.

The Ford is scheduled for commissioning in 2015 and will replace the USSEnterprise which is due to be decommissioned this fall after 51 years service.

Newport News Shipbuilding is the world's only maker of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. It employs 20,500 people.