The Navy Secretary has committed that the service and its industry partners will have working weapons elevators on aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) by the end of the summer – and the secretary’s job is now on the line over that issue.
The Navy accepted delivery of the first-in-class carrier and commissioned it into the fleet without any functioning weapons elevators. The carrier is now in its post-shakedown availability at builder Newport News Shipbuilding, after spending a year at sea running the ship to discover any potential flaws.
Though the Navy already said the elevators would be addressed during this PSA period, the stakes are now higher: Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer told President Donald Trump that the elevators would be installed and working by the time the carrier returns to sea, or else the president can use his famous “you’re fired” line on the service secretary.
Spencer said this morning at an event hosted by the Center for a New American Security that he spoke to Trump at length last month at the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia.
“I asked him to stick his hand out; he stuck his hand out. I said, let’s do this like corporate America. I shook his hand and said, the elevators will be ready to go when she pulls out or you can fire me,” Spencer said, adding that someone had to take accountability over the ongoing elevator challenges.
“We’re going to get it done. I know I’m going to get it done. I haven’t been fired yet by anyone; being fired by the president really isn’t on the top of my list.”
The president isn’t the only one who will hold the Navy accountable for the weapons elevators being complete by the end of Ford‘s PSA. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, tied his approval of the Navy’s desire to buy two carriers, CVNs 80 and 81, in a single contract to the Navy’s ability to get the weapons elevator issue resolved.