NEWPORT NEWS, Va., April 16 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy's new carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, is 96 percent structurally complete, Huntington Ingalls Industries announced.
Last week, workers at the company's Newport News Shipbuilding added the ship's upper bow section and now the ship's flight deck has been completed.
"Placement of the upper bow gives our entire shipbuilding team a great sense of accomplishment," said Rolf Bartschi, NNS' vice president, CVN 78 carrier construction. "We have now structurally erected the flight deck to its full length."
The full length of the aircraft carrier is 1,106 feet.
Huntington Ingalls said the upper bow is comprised of 19 steel sections with a combined weight of about 867 tons. Work on the bow unit began at the end of 2011.
The Gerald R. Ford is a first-of-class carrier and is being built in a modular fashion. Smaller sections of the ship are welded together to form large structural units; equipment is then installed and the large units are lifted into the dry dock.
Construction of the carrier began in 2009. It is scheduled for launch this year.