Sunday :: Feb 17, 2008

USS Gerald Ford (CVN-78)


by paradox

Whenever lists are compiled for the greatest technological achievements of the race a slot is always held by the United States Navy with immense pride: the Nimitz class aircraft carrier. Descendants of incredible technological investments that span 50 years, these leviathans at 100,000 tons hold two nuclear reactors that power the ships with incredible speed, while also supporting the ship and squadrons of aircraft few national air forces in the world would dare to take on.

Yet this throbbing hub of steel and electrons is crammed with over 5,000 women and men serving aboard, too, USS Nimitz never refuels and can keep 5,000 souls hard at work for months on end. Crammed with fuels, nuclear and conventional weaponry, amazing electronics and incredibly dedicated professionals who live the holy writ of operational readiness, Nimitz class carriers are the most crushingly powerful warships the world will ever see.

Know what the long-standing Navy verdict is on the Nimitz class? Not good enough.

What primarily motivates the Navy to heave one of the technological wonders of the world and build USS Gerald Ford are electromagnetic catapults, magnet polarity-switching technology that launch a jet with very compact hardware and better performance, totally absent the cumbersome and very difficult technological challenge of conventional catapults, which require massive pistons and super-heated steam under the flight deck.

If you’re going to install two completely new nuclear reactors necessary for the incredible amounts of electricity required for electromagnetics, why, make the ship electric drive, too, might as well strip the shaft turbines along with the flight deck pistons (another huge design improvement). Finally move the island to the back of the flight deck, improve the biologic and electronic systems, and automate as many tasks that time and cost allows.

Ahhhhhh, yes, that tiny item heretofore left out of the topic: cost. Nimitz class carriers cost $4.5 billion to build and $160 million to annually run. If one feels like getting lied to ask the Navy how much USS Gerald Ford will cost and they’ll say $8 billion, but the obvious fact is that no one has any clue how much the new class of carrier will cost, some estimates go as high as a totally credible $20 billion. Modular construction started a year ago, if things have gone well the hull will be taking shape right now.

If and when, for whatever billions upon billions it takes to get CVN-78’s hull operational, consider another cost item to the ship, this time on her deck. USS Gerald Ford is supposed to get the Advanced Technical Fighter Navy variant, part of the world’s most expensive aircraft deployment ever. She will be a quantum leap forward in operational technology over Nimitz class, if that were somehow possible, armed with jets of unbelievable force and power.

USS Gerald Ford will be an utter tragedy, a gross malfunction and regression of the human condition.

The United States is currently broke and crushingly in debt, mired in unnecessary losing wars and disastrously reeling in clumsy petrol imperialism. The Navy should have been told to dream on, $4.5 billion is all you’re ever getting for a carrier, if indeed you get another one at all. $10-20 billion for a new carrier precisely makes us less secure when you’re broke and losing.

Carriers do not combat pathogens, do not grow or distribute food, cure diseases, educate children or house refugees. Incredibly, the United States builds them for a naval foe that doesn’t exist! The US Navy submarine force easily rules the oceans of the world, carriers are pure force imperialism vehicles, useless for anything else.

I served the USN in wartime, and to this day would die for my ship if my Senior or Warrant ordered me to. I’m not exaggerating in the least. The United States needs a Navy, of course, always will, so the you-hippie-peacenik-commie-hates-America email is totally unnecessary, thank you.

What is necessary, of the utmost screaming importance, is for Democratic politicians to urgently warn and work against the disastrous paths of United States militarism and petrol imperialism, to actively engage in specific military issues like USS Gerald Ford. This country cannot continue this insanity, when it’s described with that terrible word “unsustainable” it means there won’t be any America for my grandchildren! I haven’t heard anything remotely like that during Campaign 2008 from Democrats, and I damn well should be.

paradox :: 8:08 AM :: Comments (28) :: Digg It!