Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Huntington Ingalls Industries received a $25.5 million contract modification to continue advance fabrication work for the Ford-class Enterprise aircraft carrier.
Ford-class carriers are vessels slated to replace the U.S. Navy's existing Nimitz-class fleet. Under the modification, Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of HII, will begin initial structural fabrication and shop work on the developing carrier through March 2018.
"This award authorizes us to begin fabrication of structural components, sub-components, sub-units and pre-assemblies in our manufacturing shops to support the 2018 construction of Enterprise," HII Newport News Shipbuilding vice president Mike Shawcross said in a press release.
Ford-class development projects have been consistently marked with delays ahead of the delivery of the first vessel, USS Gerald Ford. According to HII officials, the recent contract modification allows the shipbuilder to apply lessons learned from previous projects.
"This is an important step in getting this next Ford-class ship off to a great start, as it allows us to continue implementation of lessons learned, and the initial steel work will allow us to utilize our aircraft carrier steel production line in an efficient manner," Shawcross added.
The USS Enterprise, designated CVN 80, takes its name from the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in history, and is the eighth vessel to carry the name. The Ford-class carriers are being designed to carry 5th-generation aircraft including the Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II.