The US Navy’s second Gerald R Ford-class aircraft carrier USS John F Kennedy (CVN 79) has reached 50% completion in its construction.

The construction milestone was reached by Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding division with the installation of one of the largest units on board.

Known as a superlift, the approximately 905 metric tonne ship unit is one of the heaviest of the planned steel structures.

The aft section was placed between the hangar bay and flight deck of the nuclear-powered US Navy ship.

The superlift comprises 19 smaller units. It enabled Newport News Shipbuilding to install a majority of the outfitting equipment such as grating, pumps, valves, electrical panels, mounting studs, and ventilation before the structure was hoisted into the dry dock using the shipyard’s 1,050 metric tonne gantry crane.

“The aircraft carrier is due to be moved from the dry dock to an outfitting berth in the fourth quarter of next year, approximately three months ahead of schedule.”

The superlifts will be joined together to complete the construction of the Gerald R Ford-class aircraft carrier.

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CVN 79 programme director Mike Butler said: “This superlift represents the future build strategy for Ford-class carriers.

“Not only did we build this superlift larger and with significantly more pre-outfitting, we managed much of the work on the deckplate with new digital project management tools as part of our integrated digital shipbuilding initiative.”

The aircraft carrier is due to be moved from the dry dock to an outfitting berth in the fourth quarter of next year, approximately three months ahead of schedule.

The USS John F Kennedy will have a full load displacement of approximately 100,000 long tonnes and will be able to sail at a speed of more than 30k.

On 5 June 2015, HII secured a $3.35bn contract for the detail design and construction of the aircraft carrier, while the keel on the ship was laid on 22 August 2015.