The Advanced Weapons Elevators (AWEs) of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) reached another milestone this week with the commencement of combined testing of its first Lower Stage Weapons Elevator on Feb. 24.
Engineers of Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII)’ Newport News Shipbuilding division (NNS) and assessors with Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia Division (NSWCPD) began phase 2 of testing Lower Stage Weapons Elevator (LSWE) #5 following the completion of phase 1 actuator testing over the weekend.
The combined (NNS and NSWCPD) testing team and phased approach are a lesson learned from earlier elevator certifications and looks to reduce redundant inspections and improve timeliness between testing and certification.
The new testing process created for Ford-class carriers enables NSWCPD to assess elevator operations alongside NNS and is aided by a 24-hour a day work-schedule that begins with a daily sync meeting to allow for the identification of issues in order to coordinate follow-on correction and further assessment.
During the second phase of testing, engineers will conduct a series of mechanical and electrical inspections to verify software and complete co-checks in order to complete System Operability Testing 3 prior to phase 3 regression testing and subsequent certification by Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA).
NNS delivered four upper stage elevators to Ford last year. To date, Ford has conducted around 7,000 cycles of these elevators with only a few minor issues. LSWE #5 will serve as a testing ground for the remaining seven elevators yet to be delivered as the lower stage elevators have significant design complexities from the upper stage elevators.
The remaining AWEs are in varying levels of completion, and a dedicated team is engaged on these efforts to accelerate the work and certification schedule where feasible, according to the U.S. Navy.