Naval Warfare

After Almost 6-Year-Long Refueling Overhaul Aircraft Carrier USS George Washington Leaves Newport News for sea trials

The different maintenance schedule, the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on HII’s workforce and delays in funding the mid-life maintenance period contributed to USS George Washington extended repair period.

After almost six years at the shipyard undergoing a mid-life refueling and overhaul USS George Washington (CVN-73) has left HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding for sea trials, USNI News reports.

According to a US Navy official, the carrier departed the shipyard and sailed down the James River for the Atlantic Ocean on May 22, 2023. After the 2,117-day maintenance period that refueled the carrier’s two nuclear reactors, modernized systems and refurbished the ship’s interior, George Washington left for sea trials, expected to last several days. The US Navy typically plans for the refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) to take four years.

George Washington was the Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier in Japan from 2008 to 2015. The different maintenance schedule, the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on HII’s workforce and delays in funding the mid-life maintenance period contributed to the extended repair period.

According to a HII statement to USNI News “Factors that extended the RCOH included delays and changes in her RCOH planning and induction timeline due to FY15 budgetary decisions to inactivate (vice refuel) this ship; the arrival condition of the ship, which was more challenging than expected, planned or budgeted for, including growth work in significant areas of the RCOH; the requirement to remove critical parts from CVN-73 to support higher-priority, deploying aircraft carriers; and the impact of COVID-19 on the workforce and industrial base.”

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USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) is the next carrier slated for its mid-life overhaul. It has been at Newport News shipbuilding since May 2021.

After its delivered back to the Navy, Washington will return to Japan and relieve carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), which will return to the US.

USS George Washington (CVN-73) is the sixth Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and is named in honor of the first president of the US who believed heavily in the necessity of a strong navy. It’s actually the fourth ship to bear this name.

The USS George Washington was first ordered by the US government back in the Cold War, although it would never see action in that era. The contract to build it was given to Newport News Shipbuilding of Norfolk, Virginia in 1982. The keel of the ship was laid in 1986, and in 1990 it took its first test runs. Finally, in 1992 it was ready to be formally commissioned.

Photo credit: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeffrey Stewart / U.S. Navy

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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