The US Navy’s second Gerald R Ford-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, John F Kennedy (CVN 79), is set enter the water for the first time.

The dry dock where the vessel’s keel was laid in 2015 is currently being flooded in phases with over 100 million gallons of water. It is located at Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding division.

Several tests will be carried out during the flooding process. The carrier will float out after the dock is fully flooded.

Kennedy programme director Mike Butler said: “The flooding of the dry dock is truly a historic event in the construction of the ship and a special moment for the men and women who have worked to get the ship to the point.

“We have made remarkable progress with Kennedy’s construction, and are pleased to get to this phase of construction three months ahead of the original schedule and fewer man-hours.

“We look forward to the upcoming christening and launch as we prepare to start our testing programme.”

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According to HII, construction of Kennedy is being supported by over 3,200 shipbuilders and 2,000 suppliers.

John F Kennedy will be put through more tests in November. The vessel will be named in a ceremony on 7 December.

The Ford-class carrier will undergo outfitting and systems testing in the James River after its christening and is expected to be delivered to the US Navy in 2022.

The 1,092ft-long Ford-class carriers will replace the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers. The vessels can operate up to 90 aircraft and feature a redesigned island, electromagnetic catapults and an enhanced flight deck.