Watching The USS Gerald Ford Aircraft Carrier Take Shape
It takes a long time to build an aircraft carrier but it's worth the wait. Especially when the carrier is as advanced and capable as the Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78).
The Ford was commissioned by President Trump on July 22. Named for our 38th president, the Ford is the first ship in its class of supercarriers to come off the line at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia. Typical of a program this size, the Ford was about a decade in the making. Advance construction was already underway when the Navy awarded the contract in 2008 and the keel was formally laid in 2009.
I was a lead project engineer working on technology for Ford-class carriers in the early part of this decade. It's been truly exciting to watch this magnificent warship evolve from the design phase to reality and – better yet – to know that my company's contributions make sailors safer and help them achieve their critical national security mission.
Nothing much moves on the Ford without help from Honeywell. We developed and manufactured the permanent magnetic electromechanical actuators for the carrier. The PMEMAs enable the remote functioning of critical systems from bow to stern, including the propulsion plant system that generates electrical and mechanical power to run the entire carrier.
Our components use the latest actuator technology, which makes them more reliable, longer-lasting and less costly for the U.S. Navy. They are much better at resisting moisture and salt, so they work better in the harsh environment that the carrier will encounter on critical missions.
We also provide the aqueous film forming foam system for the carrier. The system creates the correct mixture of AFFF concentrate and seawater to produce the foam used in fighting shipboard fires.
In all, we produce more than 1,000 components for the Gerald R. Ford. There are more Honeywell components on the Ford than on any of the many aerospace and defense platforms that we support.
Lots of people are surprised to learn that an organization called Honeywell Aerospace produces top-notch technology for naval and commercial vessels. The fact is we've been in the marine systems business for decades and produce a wide range of products for ships and submarines. We like to say, “If it flies, sails on the water, or goes under the water – we've got the right solution.”
While I wasn't able to attend the commissioning, I recently had a chance to see the Ford in person and, believe me, it's an impressive sight to behold! Not surprisingly, I found myself reflecting on Honeywell's contributions to the program. I also thought about the dedication, creativity and hard work on the part of the many Honeywell employees, including my Marine Program teammates, who have been involved in the program over the years.
I also felt great pride as a Honeywell employee, a Navy reservist and an American, knowing we are all safer and more secure thanks to our men and women in uniform, who deserve the best equipment we can provide!
Damian Maguire is the Senior Customer Business Manager for Marine Programs at Honeywell Aerospace in Phoenix.