WASHINGTON — The future aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy, the next ship in the Ford class, is now 50 percent complete, according to the Newport News Naval Shipbuilding division of Huntington Ingalls.

The ship reached the halfway point after a “superlift,” where one of the largest construction units on the ship — a 905-metric-ton aft section — was installed, according to the company news release. That section is 80 feet long, 110 feet wide and four decks in height, the shipbuilder said.

The ship is set to be launched in late 2019.

The Kennedy is the second of at least four planned ships of the Ford class. The lead ship, the Gerald R. Ford, was commissioned last year and is undergoing post-commissioning work. According to Newport News Naval Shipbuilding, the superlift used on the Kennedy will be used for the next two ships of the class, the Enterprise and the unnamed CVN 81.

“This was a game changer for us,” said Lucas Hicks, Newport News Naval Shipbuilding’s vice president of the CVN 79 program. “Performing higher levels of pre-outfitting represents a significant improvement in aircraft carrier construction, allowing us to build larger structures than ever before and providing greater cost savings.”

The Ford was plagued with cost overruns and schedule delays, but Newport News has made vocal their desire to launch the ship three months early.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Newport News Naval Shipbuilding had said the ship was four months ahead of schedule, whne instead the company has been vocal about the desire to launch the ship three months early.

Jeff Martin is the Associate Editor for Multimedia and the host & producer of Defense News Weekly, airing online and on American Forces Network worldwide. In his role as Associate Editor, he reports worldwide on the military and defense industry and leads a market-leading multimedia team.

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