Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Huntington Ingalls Industries launched the USS John F. Kennedy into the James River for the first time on Monday.
The Kennedy was guided down the river about a mile from Hungtington Ingalls' Newport News Shipbuilding Dry Dock 12 with the aid of six tugboats to the shipyard's Pier 3 for additional outfitting and testing.
The Kennedy is the second of the new Ford-class aircraft carriers, with the launch coming nine days after the Kennedy's christening and three months ahead of schedule.
Officials say they've applied lessons from the troubled production of the first-in-class Ford that have sped up production of the Kennedy.
The ship is now at the shipbuilder's Pier 3 to undergo additional outfitting and testing in a phase of construction that is expected to last two and a half years. Crews will build berthing and mess areas and test combat systems on the Kennedy, according to HII.
"This move is significant in that it represents a shift in focus from erecting the ship in dock to final completion and outfitting at the pier," Mike Butler, program director for the Kennedy said in a statement. "It is also a testament to the amazing teamwork I see every day between Newport News Shipbuilding and the Navy as we work together to build Kennedy with valuable first-of-class lessons from the Ford."