A bombing episode around the brand new first-in-class aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald Ford, triggered an earthquake alert from the USGS as the explosions registered as an earthquake east of the Florida coast. But this wasn’t an act of war: it was the first scheduled explosive event planned as part of the giant ship’s “Full Ship Shock Trials” or FSST for short.
The Navy is conducting the shock trial testing in accordance with Office of the Chief of Naval Operations Instruction 9072.2, and as mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016. According to the U.S. Navy, Ford’s shock trials are being conducted off the East Coast of the United States, within a narrow schedule that complies with environmental mitigation requirements, respecting known migration patterns of marine life in the test area. The Navy also has employed extensive protocols throughout FSST to ensure the safety of military and civilian personnel participating in the testing evolution.
The purpose of the FSST is to ensure the ship is properly hardened to withstand battle conditions. Because this is a first of its kind aircraft carrier, Navy experts will analyze data captured in and around the ship from these explosions to confirm the ship is capable of dealing with potential battle conditions with real enemy forces at sea.
According to USGS, the explosion centered roughly 105 miles east of Ponce Inlet on the Florida central east coast was picked up by their network of seismographs. The “experimental explosion” was recorded as a 3.9 magnitude earthquake, a significant seismic event for this region. While earthquakes are ongoing around Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the area of the explosion isn’t known for any seismic activity.
The U.S. Navy says that once the FSST wraps-up later this summer, the USS Gerald Ford will enter a Planned Incremental Availability (PIA) for six months of modernization, maintenance, and repairs prior to its operational employment.
With the FSST ongoing for the coming weeks, east coast residents should be aware of additional likely earthquake alerts from the USGS, but know that they are likely from these intentionally detonated bombs and not a natural seismic event.
Ever wonder what a 40,000 pound explosive looks like from the bridge wing of a @USNavy aircraft carrier?
— USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) (@Warship_78) June 20, 2021