Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) has installed the final superlift on the flight deck of the US Navy’s second Gerald R Ford-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, John F Kennedy’s (CVN 79).

The company’s Newport News Shipbuilding division has added the upper bow section that is one of the last steel structural units to be placed on CVN 79.

HII is using new digital technologies, including visual work instructions in the construction of the carrier to increase efficiency and productivity.

The digital technology was used for the installation of piping in the upper bow on the final assembly platen instead of on the ship, the company stated.

Newport News CVN 79 programme director Mike Butler said: “We are very pleased with the progress being made on Kennedy as we inch closer to christening the ship later this year.

“The upper bow is the last superlift that completes the ship’s primary hull. This milestone is testament to the significant build strategy changes we have made, and to the men and women of Newport News Shipbuilding who do what no one else in the world can do.”

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The 780t superlift was built in 18 months. This milestone comes after HII landed the ‘island‘ onto the flight deck of Kennedy in May, bringing the carrier closer to its launch.

Alongside using digital tools, the company has incorporated build strategy changes to reduce required man-hours.

Construction of the second Gerald R Ford-class carrier is being supported by more than 3,200 shipbuilders and 2,000 suppliers.

HII stated that Kennedy is in the early stages of its testing programme and that christening of the vessel is scheduled to take place later this year.

Key features of the ship include fewer overall components, extended drydocking interval, and improved ship-wide air-conditioning.

The company secured a $3.35bn contract for the detail design and construction of CVN 79 in June 2015.