Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding (HII-NNS) division has completed the landing of a 588t island onto the flight deck of the US Navy’s aircraft carrier USS John F Kennedy (CVN 79).

The lowering of the 56ft-long, 33ft-wide island marks a key milestone for USS John F Kennedy, which is now more than 90% structurally complete.

The island will sit atop the flight deck and serve as the command-and-control centre for flight deck operations aboard the vessel.

US Navy Aircraft Carriers Program Executive Officer rear admiral Brian Antonio said: “With the island landing, John F Kennedy takes on that distinctive and unmistakable profile of an aircraft carrier.

“It symbolises nearing the end of structural work and the start of bringing the ship to life, transitioning steel and cable to a living ship and crew.”

It is one of the last steel structures to be placed onto the aircraft carrier. Systems to be hosted on the structure include navigation bridge, primary flight control, and radar.

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HII-NNS has incorporated new technologies during the construction of the ship, including digital work instructions that provide digital 3-D data versus traditional paper drawings to shipbuilders.

“With the island landing, John F Kennedy takes on that distinctive and unmistakable profile of an aircraft carrier.”

Kennedy is projected to be heavier than the lead vessel of the Ford-class, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).

CVN 79/80/81 Program Office (PMS 379) programme manager captain Phil Malone said: “Improvements in build strategy and material procurement are enabling John F Kennedy to be constructed with approximately 18% fewer production hours than those needed for CVN 78.”

HII-NNS expects to move CVN 79 from the dry dock to an outfitting berth in the fourth quarter of this year.

USS John F Kennedy, which is sponsored by Caroline Kennedy, former US Ambassador to Japan, is anticipated to be christened later this year.

Caroline Kennedy wrote in a letter: “The island landing is an important milestone in the life of this ship. I know how proud my father would be of the ship that will bear his name and the patriotism and dedication of all who sail in her.”