New U.S. Navy aircraft carrier parts crafted in Lebanon County

Written by John Latimer/Lebanon Daily News | Jul 31, 2017 7:29 AM

Sailors man the rails of the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford during the ship's commissioning ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., July 22, 2017. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Julio Martinez Martinez. (Photo:

(Lebanon) -- There's a little bit of Lebanon County in the U.S. Navy's newest aircraft carrier, thanks to the efforts of a Cornwall defense contractor.

Components manufactured by PRL Inc. were used in the construction of the USS Gerald R. Ford which was commissioned last week by President Donald Trump in a ceremony at the Naval Station in Norfolk, Va.

The parts included valve and pump components for the ships nuclear reactors, said Jan Hershkowitz, PRL's director of public and government relations.

"The parts we make are cast here and are upgraded to whatever military specs are needed," she said.

More than 5,000 shipbuilders in Newport News and thousands of suppliers, like PRL took part in construction of the USS Gerald R. Ford, according to Newport News Shipbuilding, which is the sole designer, builder and refueler of U.S. Navy aircraft carriers.

The ship cost $12.8 billion to build but includes efficiencies, including a smaller crew that will save the Navy $4 billion in costs over its 50-year lifespan.

PRL, employs 140 people at its Cornwall location near the historic Cornwall Iron Furnace on Rexmont Road, has been operating since the mid-1970s. In addition to its work for the Navy it also supplies products for the nuclear energy and other commercial industries.

To watch a video about its construction click here.

The ship was named after the country's 38th president who served on a naval aircraft carrier in World War II. His daughter, Susan Ford Bayles had the honor of christening it on July 22 at the ceremony which included Trump and U.S. Defense Sec. James Mattis.

The nuclear-powered vessel is the lead ship of a new class of supercarriers, also named after Ford, and the first new carrier designed in the Navy since the USS Nimitz was commissioned in 1975, according to Newport News Shipbuilding

PRL also made components for those carriers and provides parts for the U.S. Navy's fleet of nuclear submarines, Hershkowitz said.

"PRL's craftsmen and women are proud of the role we play in our nation's defense," she said. "As we wish the crew of the USS Gerald R. Ford well, we also offer our congratulation to both the Navy and Newport News Shipbulding on her delivery."

There was a sense of excitement and accomplishment at PRL when the ship was commissioned last week, as there usually is when a project is completed, Hershkowitz said. 

"Some of our employees are veterans but whether they are vets or not, it is a way of contributing to the nation's defense and national security," she said. "They feel a tremendous amount of pride in everything that goes out the door."



This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between WITF and the Lebanon Daily News.

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