Is it a Floating Disaster? Expensive US Ship Struggling with Exploding Generators

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US Navy’s new aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is stuck on a problem which is preventing the ship from casting off lines and getting underway.

A serious voltage regulator problem on the carrier’s four main turbine generators (MTGs) has prevented engineers from running the motors up to full power, only now has the problem been identified and a fix decided upon.

The MTGs are a significant element in the ship’s power generation system – an all-new layout supporting a plant developing at least three times the electrical power of previous carriers.

The problem manifested itself June 12 when a small electrical explosion took place on the No. 2 MTG during testing. Navy sources disagree whether the term “explosion” is appropriate, but two sources familiar with the situation used the reference, one noting that “it was enough of an explosion that debris got into the turbine.”  Smoke from the event reportedly was drawn into other spaces, one source reported.

According to Capt. Thurraya Kent, spokesperson for the Navy’s acquisition directorate, “personnel detected a burning smell.”  There was no fire, Kent insisted, and “no fire-extinguishing actions were taken.”  No one was injured and there was no evacuation of personnel, she added.

In a statement responding to a Defense News query, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) said the issues “were not associated with the nuclear reactor plant and had no impact on safe operation of the nuclear reactor.”

The Ford’s dual band radar (DBR) installation is still completing its shipboard test program, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus reported, but full system testing won’t be carried out until the ship’s power system is lit off in conjunction with the shipboard test program.  “We are confident in our ability to successfully demonstrate the functionality required for successful sea trials and, subsequently, for operation testing in post-delivery,” Mabus wrote.

Testing of the ship’s 11 advanced weapons elevators continues, Mabus said, acknowledging that “these new-design weapons elevators have experienced delays in late-stage integrated shipboard testing mainly due to correction of software discrepancies.”

While indicating he doesn’t expect all 11 elevators to be properly operating at the time of sea trials, Mabus declared that “the Navy is confident we will get through these first-of-class issues and ensure that lessons learned on CVN 78 are directly applied to CVN 79.”

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Source: Defense News

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