Gerald R. Ford

Sailors from the pre-commissioning unit (PCU) of the US Navy aircraft carrier Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) have completed specialised training and are now ready to operate and maintain the navy’s newest aircraft launch system.

With the support of General Atomics (GA), Naval Air and Naval Sea System Commands developed a complete training programme for Ford’s PCU Air Department catapult and arresting gear V-2 division leadership, and sailors who with take part in systems testing.

The electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) shipboard testing is expected to begin later this year..

EMALS training manager Terry Hotz said: "EMALS is such a leap in technology, using high voltage electromagnetic power rather than the steam that powers the legacy catapults, and extra caution and respect must be exercised during maintenance operations to ensure the safety of personnel.

"It’s essential we provide excellent training to help them thoroughly understand the system."

"It’s essential we provide excellent training to help them thoroughly understand the system."

The first crew graduated from the GA-led course in Rancho Bernardo, California in October last year, while the two additional PCU groups completed training sessions at the full-scale EMALS system functional demonstration site at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey earlier this year.

In addition, CVN 78 will be performing a series of tests launching dead-loads, or weighted sleds representative of aircraft, into Virginia’s James River this summer.

Earlier this year, the US Navy carried out the test of EMALS aboard the Gerald R Ford. This development marked the completion of the first-ever, shipboard, full speed catapult test shots using the system.

Image: Members of Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) engage in hands-on EMALS maintenance training. Photo: courtesy of US Navy Photo.