Shipbuilders recently performed the first two superlifts for Enterprise (CVN 80) in Dry Dock 12 . Photo by Ashley Cowan

NNS Completes First Enterprise Superlifts

Published April 19, 2022

Enterprise (CVN 80), the U.S. Navy’s third Ford-class aircraft carrier, is officially taking shape in Newport News Shipbuilding’s Dry Dock 12.

Shipbuilders recently completed the first two CVN 80 superlifts. Eventually, the 850-ton and 550-ton units will make up the base of the ship’s machinery areas.

“There was an excitement in the air across the Final Assembly Platen when every employee realized we were getting ready to put the very first piece of this aircraft carrier in dry dock,” said Mike Butler, CVN 80 construction director. “Every lift we make into the dock is a time to celebrate the team that built that superlift.”

Leshaun Pruden (X11) was part of the team. A shipbuilder for five years, he had not worked on an aircraft carrier at this early stage and said he had a sense of pride watching the first superlift.

“A lot of us put in a lot of hard work and dedication to get that unit to where it is now,” he said. “It was honestly a great experience for me. I’m just looking forward to seeing how everything grows as we work the other units.”

General Foreman Justin Barefoot said his team’s role ramps up once units are in the dry dock as they work to ensure compartments are structurally complete.

“It’s always fun to get going in the dock. You see the units being built on the platen, but once you actually start seeing the ship get put together, it’s just a different kind of feeling,” he said.

While CVN 80 will carry the legacy of Enterprise (CVN 65) with its name, it also will carry part of the ship. Some of the steel used to form one of the superlifts came from CVN 65. The team building the newer Enterprise – the ninth Navy ship to bear the name – is doing so in a digital environment and with lessons learned from the first two Ford-class carriers.

“Every day, we’re able to gather something new that we’re incorporating to make us more efficient and allow us to build an even better ship,” Butler said.

Watch a time-lapse video of the first two CVN 80 lifts on MyNNS. NNS will celebrate with a ceremonial keel laying later this year.