US Navy Fires Program Manager for Troubled Aircraft Carrier USS Ford

The US Navy has fired the head of its USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier program. The warship is far behind schedule and over budget, plagued with malfunctioning systems and costly repairs even though it has yet to be commissioned in the Navy.

Capt. Ron Rutan has been removed as head of the Ford’s program office, according to Naval Sea Systems (NAVSEA), which announced his transfer to its office last week. The Ford program will now be headed by Capt. Brian Metcalf, who previously oversaw the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock program, USNI News reported.

NAVSEA spokesman Rory O’Connor told USNI News the Ford program needed to seize “the opportunity to recharge and allow for fresh eyes on upcoming challenges.”

However, the Navy Times could only squeeze out of NAVSEA the nebulous answer that Rutan had been removed “due to performance over time.”

Rutan took over the program office in August 2018, at which time the Ford was already behind schedule and over budget. Many of the same programs that plagued the ship then, delaying its joining the Navy by several years, have persisted to the present - and entirely new ones have arisen

Last month, the warship’s electromagnetic aircraft catapults broke down during a key drill for the Ford’s air wing, and Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition James Geurts also announced that the ship would not have all its munitions elevators fully functional until next summer.

In March, the Navy said it was unlikely there would be more than four Ford-class ships, after the latest carrier, the USS Doris Miller, was purchased.

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