WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy is set to receive the USS Gerald R. Ford supercarrier as soon as April, the branch announced.
The 1,100-foot long USS Gerald R. Ford is the lead ship of the developing class of supercarriers, a follow-up to the Navy's legacy Nimitz-class fleet. The Navy plans to use the vessel to replace its inactive USS Enterprise. It is one of the most expensive aircraft carriers ever built for the branch.
Work on the vessel began in 2005, and was initially expected to be complete by 2014, though the construction process has been marked by several delays and cost overruns. The Virginia Pilot reports Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Sen. John McCain has been sharply critical of the program.
Despite the setbacks, Navy officials say their industry partners have made significant progress.
"Gerald R. Ford is 99 percent overall complete with 93 percent of the test program complete," Navy spokesperson Capt. Thurraya Kent told MLive.com. "Over the past few months, we have made significant progress resolving first-of-class issues associated with these critical systems and have resumed critical path testing in support of Builder's Sea Trials."
The ship takes its namesake from former U.S. President Gerald Ford, who served on light aircraft carrier USS Monterrey during World War II.
Following delivery, sea trials for the vessel are expected to begin in March.