Navy: Budget pressure delayed carrier design

Navy: Budget pressure delayed carrier design

The Navy's air warfare director Tuesday denied reports circulating that the Navy has canceled its plans to design a totally new type of aircraft carrier called the CVX.

But because of the tight budget situation, it may take two or three more carriers and perhaps two decades before a radically different carrier appears, Rear Adm. Dennis McGinn said.

And even that new ship almost certainly will be nuclear powered, just as the last nine carriers have been, McGinn said. "The Navy is fully committed to CVX, to get to the CVX design goals," McGinn said at a quickly arranged Pentagon briefing for reporters.

However, because of the "constrained budget environment," the transition from the proven Nimitz class carriers to the new design will proceed "at an affordable pace," he said.

The unusual briefing brought good news for the nuclear power construction industry, which depends heavily on Navy submarines and aircraft carriers for work, and for Newport News Shipbuilding, which has built all of the Nimitz class carriers.

Construction on the first CVX was to have begun in 2006, with the ship ready for service seven years later. It originally was described as a "clean-page" design project, which would consider an entirely new hull, propulsion and flight deck.

The problem, McGinn said, was an estimate that it could cost $7 billion to design the totally new carrier. The Navy concluded it could not afford that cost, or the technological risk in trying to develop a new design by 2006.

Now, McGinn said, the next carrier, designated as CVN-77, will be a modified Nimitz design with extensive changes from the proven concept in flight deck arrangements, internal power and other provisions intended to reduce crew size and save money.

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