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The US Navy Just 'Cut Steel' on the Next Generation of Advanced Carriers

And it was named after a hero of Pearl Harbor.

The US Navy Just 'Cut Steel' on the Next Generation of Advanced Carriers
A graphic rendering of another forthcoming Ford-class carrier. US Department of Defense / Wikimedia

The United States is rearming for the future of warfare.

The U.S. Navy has officially started building the fourth carrier of its next-gen fleet, the USS Doris Miller, according to an initial report from Insider.

Crucially, it will be the second ship to honor a hero of Pearl Harbor: A Black sailor whose actions went above and beyond in a moment of horrific crisis during his time serving in the enlisted ranks.

The new aircraft carrier is slated for delivery in 2032

"It is so fitting and timely during a period of significant discussion and change we come together to begin construction of one of our Navy's next great aircraft carriers, in the name of one of the finest heroes of the greatest generation," declared Rear Admn. James Downey, who is also the program executive officer for aircraft carriers, in the Insider report. "We will construct a sound and mighty warship worthy of his legacy." This is the second gallant ship of a contract to build two carriers awarded to Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), the primary contractor for the new warship. The company will construct the vessel within its Newport News facilities, and, in the future, it will also build the forthcoming USS Enterprise (CVN-80), the contract for which was awarded in January 2019.

As of writing, Newport News is in the early stages of manufacturing the Doris Miller, which includes shop work (cutting metal) and structural fabrication. The ship will become the second aircraft ever built from digital drawings and procedures alone and instead of the conventional paperwork packages and physical products. The USS Doris Miller's keel will be laid in 2026, with final delivery to the US Navy slated for 2032. Ten Ford-class carriers are slated for delivery to the Navy, which are designed to replace the aging Nimitz-class carriers, wholesale. Since every Nimitz-class carrier must be replaced by the new Ford-class, Newport News could continue delivering carriers to the Navy until 2058, or even later. This would mean a class of ship the first steel for which was cut 50 years earlier would still be in production. And, at a cost of $11 billion to $13 billion per pop. the Ford-class carriers are also the most expensive ever constructed.

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US Navy is upgrading its fleet for the 21st century

While the U.S. Navy was already in need of a fleet-wide upgrade, it's not a coincidence that the military-industrial complex is shifting its production cycle upward as China's military forces grow amid rising tensions with the West. And, on Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee of the U.S. endorsed a plan from President Biden to add $24 billion for the construction of more ships, aircraft, and ground vehicles in the United States defense forces.

The fact that this plan received bipartisan support in a time of unprecedented partisan divides points to the strength of consensus surrounding the prospect of potential engagements with rising powers, like China. Naturally, everyone wants peaceful relations between the U.S., China, and Russia to continue through the 21st century, but, with ships like USS Doris Miller, in addition to other new aircraft carriers, destroyers, troop transports, and nuclear submarines, the U.S. military will be far more prepared for a worst-case scenario.

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