US Navy Prepares to Connect Newest Carrier to Other Warships

By Marcus Weisgerber

June 1, 2020

Can you hear me now?

The U.S. Navy is preparing to test the voice and data links that will connect the Gerald Ford to the other warships in the fleet, officials said.

The command-and-control tests come as the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier continues to come to life in the Atlantic during a series of sea trials over the next year and a half.

We’d love to get Ford to start doing some basic interaction with the rest of a strike group type of organization,” Rear Adm. Craig Clapperton, commander of Carrier Strike Group 12, said on a Monday conference call with reporters. “We are going to…try to do some basic building-block-type things.”

That means connecting the ship electronically with other aircraft carriers, destroyers, cruisers, aircraft and land-based headquarters around the world. Ford is also expected to link up electronically with the Harry Truman, another aircraft carrier in the Atlantic.

The links that are required to have a carrier strike group operate are expansive,” Capt. J. J. Cummings, the Ford’s commanding officer, said on the call.

Setting up these classified and unclassified links will allow the ships and planes to share intelligence and other battle information, including the location of friendly and enemy ships, submarines, and aircraft. 

As a strike group, it’s incredibly important to be able to pull together that full air, surface and sub-surface picture, share it with the rest of the strike group…to enable the full scale of military operations from a strike group,” Clapperton said. “We’re going to take the very first steps of that here over the next couple of weeks.”

In recent months, officials have certified the ship's flight deck for aircraft operations. Five of the ship’s 11 electromagnetic weapons elevators are now working as well.

By Marcus Weisgerber // Marcus Weisgerber is the global business editor for Defense One, where he writes about the intersection of business and national security. He has been covering defense and national security issues for more than a decade, previously as Pentagon correspondent for Defense News and chief editor of Inside the Air Force. He has reported from Afghanistan, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, and often travels with the defense secretary and other senior military officials.

June 1, 2020