See the US Navy's $13 billion warship go through an explosive 'shock trial'

Kaboom. Sploosh. The USS Gerald R. Ford is going through some things.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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A large explosion in the water is the first of the US Navy's full ship shock trials for the USS Gerald R. Ford warship.

US Navy/Riley B. McDowell

The USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier is the Navy's next-generation warship, a high-tech $13 billion beast that rides the waves. It was commissioned in 2017, and is now tackling a series of dramatic tests called full ship shock trials.

"The first-in-class aircraft carrier was designed using advanced computer modeling methods, testing, and analysis to ensure the ship is hardened to withstand battle conditions, and these shock trials provide data used in validating the shock hardness of the ship," the Navy said in a statement.

The Navy released video footage and images from the ship's first "explosive event" on Friday. The military is testing how the ship responds to shocks that mimic what could happen in a real battle. An explosive detonation nearby sent the water into turmoil. 

The shock trials are happening in the Atlantic Ocean off the East Coast of the US "within a narrow schedule that complies with environmental mitigation requirements, respecting known migration patterns of marine life in the test area."

USS Gerald R. Ford is the first Ford-class ship. It will be replacing the previous generation of aircraft carriers. It features a host of upgraded systems compared to its predecessors, including a new nuclear plant, greater power generation, and an advanced aircraft launch system.

$13 billion and counting: This is the biggest, most expensive warship in history

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The US Geological Survey appeared to register the ocean blast as a magnitude 3.9 earthquake, listing it as an "experimental explosion." 

The trials should wrap up later this summer. The Navy said the ship will then go through "six months of modernization, maintenance, and repairs prior to its operational employment." It may look a lot like the aircraft carriers that came before it, but in both cost and technology, it's a different animal.