As you know, the USS Ford has had numerous problems with EMALS, the Advanced Arresting Gear, and, perhaps worst of all, the Advanced Weapons Elevators (AWE). We documented this in a post (see, “USS Ford – Ups and Downs”).
The Ford was delivered and commissioned without functioning weapon elevators. How do you accept delivery and commission a carrier that can’t move weapons from its magazines to the flight deck? But, I digress …
Secretary of the Navy, Richard Spencer took responsibility for getting the elevators working, telling President Trump he could fire him if they weren’t ready by the end of summer when Ford is scheduled to complete its post-shakedown availability (PSA).
Spencer said this morning at an event hosted by the Center for a New American Security that he spoke to Trump at length last month at the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia.
“I asked him to stick his hand out; he stuck his hand out. I said, let’s do this like corporate America. I shook his hand and said, the elevators will be ready to go when she pulls out or you can fire me,” Spencer said, adding that someone had to take accountability over the ongoing elevator challenges.
“We’re going to get it done. I know I’m going to get it done. I haven’t been fired yet by anyone; being fired by the president really isn’t on the top of my list.” (1)
Well, it now appears that SecNav Spencer is in line to be fired. The Navy has announced that Ford’s PSA completion date will be delayed an additional three months, pushing it into October. That’s beyond the original summer PSA deadline.
Time to send your resume out, Mr. Spencer. You failed. You’re fired. If you have any integrity, you’ll submit your resignation and save the President the trouble of firing you.
As of this writing, only two of the ship’s 11 elevators have been delivered. Ford commissioned in July 2017 and now, 20 months later, the ship has only two functional elevators. Wow! Still, I remain confident that most of the elevators will be working by the time Ford retires in 2067.
It’s also interesting to note that the Ford’s PSA has been delayed more than once.
In July 2018, when Ford entered PSA, the Navy said the maintenance availability had been extended from a planned eight months to a full year, to accommodate both the typical work that arises in PSA but also deferred work such as the construction and installation of weapons elevators and an upgrade to the AAG, whose technical challenges greatly contributed to the delayed delivery and commissioning of the ship. (1)
So, the original 8 month PSA was extended to 12 months and now is being extended to 15 months.
Elevators are not the only problem the Ford is experiencing. In addition to the well known EMALS and AAG issues, Ford has severe problems with the propulsion system.
Problems with the propulsion system are less understood publicly. The problem isn’t resident in the two nuclear reactors aboard but rather the ship’s main turbines generators that are driven by the steam the reactors produce.
Sources familiar with the extent of the repairs have told USNI News two of the main turbine generators needed unanticipated and extensive overhauls. As Geurts told Congress, the ship’s company discovered the problem during sea trials. (2)
So, brand new turbine generators need ‘extensive overhauls’? What kind of quality control is the Navy practicing? None, apparently? Nice job, inspecting and accepting the Ford, NAVSEA. NAVSEA is a joke They’re absolutely worthless and need to be abolished.
SecNav Spencer, I know you didn’t design the flawed elevators and you aren’t, personally, attempting the repairs but you accepted responsibility and you freely offered your conditional resignation last fall. Well, you failed to deliver. Accountability is what’s been missing from the Navy for quite some time. Show us you have a sense of integrity. Show the Navy you have a sense of accountability. Set an example for the Navy. Resign and take CNO Richardson with you.
Failing that, you’re fired.
(1)USNI News website, “SECNAV to Trump: Ford Carrier Weapons Elevators Will be Fixed by Summer, or ‘Fire Me’”, Megan Eckstein, 8-Jan-2019,
(2)USNI News website, “USS Gerald Ford Delivery Delayed Due to Extensive Nuclear Propulsion, Weapons Elevator Repairs; Carrier Won’t be Ready Until October”, Sam LaGrone, 26-Mar-2019,
Source: Navy Matters