Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding division has conducted the first steel cut of the US Navy’s aircraft carrier Doris Miller (CVN 81).

The steel-cut ceremony marks the first construction milestone in the life of the newest Gerald R Ford-class aircraft carrier.

Newport News Shipbuilding division president Jennifer Boykin said: “Today we recognise the start of construction of the fourth ship of the Gerald R Ford class.

“From this day forward, our shipbuilders will put their hearts into every pipe they fit, every unit they lift, and every inch of steel they weld.”

HII’s Newport News division is currently performing early manufacturing of Doris Miller. This includes structural fabrication and shop work.

Keel laying for Doris Miller is scheduled for 2026. The vessel is expected to be delivered to the US Navy in 2032.

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The ship’s naming ceremony took place in January last year. The future Ford-class carrier USS Doris Miller is the second ship to be named in honour of Miller.

The aircraft carrier is also the second ship built completely using digital drawings and procedures.

US Navy aircraft carriers programme executive officer rear admiral James Downey said: “It is so fitting and timely during a period of significant discussion and change we come together to begin construction of one of our navy’s next great aircraft carriers in the name of one of the finest heroes of the greatest generation.”

According to HII, Doris Miller is the second ship of the two-carrier contract award that HII received in January 2019 for the design and construction of the Gerald R Ford-class aircraft carriers.

The first ship under this contract is Enterprise (CVN 80).