Stately home for planes

The USA‘s 10th and final Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, George HW Bush (CVN 77), gained a colossal 800 tons last week as Northrop Grumman lowered the upper bow section of the ship into place.

The addition of the upper bow completes the flight deck and extends the overall length of the carrier to its full size, which is as long as the EmpireStateBuilding is tall.

Weighing 780 tons and made up of 25 steel sections, the upper bow is one of the heaviest crane lifts in the ship’s production plan. Northrop Grumman’s Newport News business began construction on the upper bow unit last February.

Newport News is building the George HW Bush using modular construction, where smaller sections of the ship are welded together to form units called super-lifts.

These super-lifts are pre-outfitted and then lifted into the construction dry dock with a 900-ton gantry crane. The upper bow unit is the 155th of 161 super-lifts used to build the carrier. It joins the lower bow section which was set into place in the dry dock nearly a year ago.

The George HW Bush is the second carrier to have a new bulbous bow design that provides more buoyancy to the forward end of the ship and improves hull efficiency. Other new design features include an updated aviation fuel distribution system, a marine sewage system and propellers.

The carrier’s christening will take place in October, with delivery to the US Navy in late 2008.