Explosion in test of Navy aircraft carrier registers as 3.9 magnitude earthquake

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Posted at 8:57 AM, Jun 22, 2021

PONCE INLET, Fla. — The U.S. Navy set off a massive explosion in the Atlantic Ocean on Friday as part of a test to ensure a new aircraft carrier is hardened to withstand battle conditions.

The blast was so big that it registered as a 3.9 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Ponce Inlet, Florida, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). That's near Daytona Beach.

The ship being tested is called the USS Gerald R. Ford. It’s the newest and most advanced aircraft carrier in the U.S. Navy. Officials say it was designed using advanced computer modeling methods, testing, and analysis.

Blasts like the one on Friday are part of “full ship shock trials (FSST),” which provide data used in validating the shock hardness of the ship, according to the Navy.

The Navy says the trials are being conducted within a narrow schedule that complies with environmental mitigation requirements, respecting known migration patterns of marine life in the test area.

The Navy says it has also employed extensive protocols to ensure the safety of military and civilian personnel participating in the testing evolution.

Once the trials are completed at the end of the summer, the Navy says the USS Gerald R. Ford will enter a “planned incremental availability” for six months of modernization, maintenance, and repairs prior to its operational employment.

These types of trials have been conducted over the past several decades, with the most recent involving the Littoral Combat Ships USS Jackson and USS Milwaukee in 2016.