Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding has laid the keel for the US Navy’s second Gerald R Ford-class aircraft carrier, USS John F Kennedy (CVN 79).
The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is the second vessel to honour former US President John F Kennedy.
Navy secretary Ray Mabus said: "The keel-laying for CVN-79 is an important milestone in returning a carrier named John F Kennedy to our fleet, continuing the rich tradition of the name.
"President Kennedy was not only an inspirational leader, but also a sailor, a man who deeply understood the importance of the navy and the presence it provides, a presence that will soon be enabled for decades to come by this great ship, a ship that will be brought to life through our partnership with the shipbuilding industry and the men and women whose tireless efforts bring our ships from concept to reality."
The new aircraft carrier, which is being constructed by HII under a $3.35bn contract, is expected to be delivered in 2022.
The CVN 79 features a flight-deck, enhanced weapons handling systems and a redesigned island for improved aircraft sortie generation rates.
Additional features of the vessel include increased electrical power generation capacity and the flexibility for the implementation of future technologies.
The 100,000t Ford-class ships will be capable of operating up to 90 aircraft, which include the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, F / A-18E / F Super Hornet, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft, MH-60R / S helicopters, and unmanned air vehicles and unmanned combat air vehicles.
The first vessel in this series, USS Gerald R Ford, is expected to be commissioned next year.
Image: A photo illustration of the US Navy’s second Gerald R Ford-class aircraft carrier, USS John F Kennedy. Photo: courtesy of Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc.