NEWPORT NEWS — Parallel parking a 100,000-ton aircraft carrier was only part of their job.
First, a small fleet of tugboat operators nudged the Gerald R Ford from Pier 3 at Newport News Shipbuilding into the James River — but not too far — then spun it 180 degrees.
The carefully choreographed move resulted in the forward part of the ship, or bow, facing land when it returned to the pier. It took less than 90 minutes, and the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier now looks poised to attack downtown Newport News.
In reality, the move was required to complete further tests on the first-in-class ship before it heads out for sea trials. Certain tests and outfitting need to happen over water, without obstructions from the pier. Flipping the ship resulted in the starboard side facing the water, which allows more work to be done.
In a larger sense, it is one more step toward a new generation of aircraft carrier.
"It’s a good signifying event that you’re nearing the end of the test program," said Rolf Bartschi, Newport News Shipbuilding vice president of Gerald R. Ford construction.
Newport News Shipbuilding preformed a turn shift for the Gerald R. Ford "CVN 78" rotating the aircraft carrier 180 degrees and docking it back to the pier on Saturday, June 11, 2016.
The shipyard, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, is the sole builder of nuclear-powered aircraft…