The long-delayed super-carrier USS Ford is "99 percent" complete and will be delivered to the Navy in April, the Navy announced lately. A date for commissioning the $13 billion ship into service has still not been yet.
美國海軍最近宣布，建造期程延宕已久的超級航艦「福特號」（USS Gerald R. Ford）目前進度已來到「99%」，並且將在4月交艦。但是這艘造價130億美元（約新臺幣4132.3億元）艦艇的服役時間仍然未定。
The Ford is the first all-new carrier design in 40 years－ since the USS Nimitz was commissioned in 1975 － and many of its new technologies turned out to be not quite ready for action, leading to schedule slips and cost overruns. But alongside the electromagnetic launch catapults and high-tech arrestor gear, the ship also suffered problems with its relatively mundane turbine generators. Now, however, the Navy says testing is 93 percent complete, work on the ship overall is 99 percent done, and the service has enough confidence to set a schedule again: shipbuilders' trials in March, then Navy acceptance trials in April with delivery later that month － assuming the trials go okay.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus effectively admitted the Ford was the Navy's most troubled program, edging out the controversial Littoral Combat Ship. Congressional critics have excoriated the program, most of all Senate Armed Services chairman John McCain, who as a former Navy fighter pilot knows carriers first-hand. Interestingly, President Donald Trump has refrained from criticizing the Ford even as he publicly blasts the F-35 fighter that will fly from it.
It'll be interesting to see if the announcement calms the troubled waters for the Ford or simply brings it back to critics' attention for another round of sniping.
The brand-new chairman of the House seapower subcommittee, Rep. Rob Wittman, was quick to praise the carrier － which is built at Newport News in his home state of Virginia, albeit not in his district: "USS FORD （CVN 78） is a first-in-class aircraft carrier with capabilities never before seen in the United States Navy and will serve as a vital component of our force projection for decades to come. Like most first-in-class ships, USS FORD experienced some unexpected delays, but I am encouraged that she plans to join the fleet in April 2017 following sea trials."
A former Pentagon analyst had a less rosy but ultimately positive assessment: "Taking delivery of the Ford at long last is a positive step towards getting the fleet back into fighting form. I hope that the Navy and the manufacturer will quickly bring all of the systems to their full capabilities, especially the electrical systems that include the ship's catapults and arresting gear. Ultimately, as we move beyond this first-in-class ship, I hope to see production intervals and associated costs come down."