USS George Washington finally under sea trials after a 5-year overhaul

The USS George Washington will finally set sail again after undergoing a significant overhaul in 2017. Once complete, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is expected to be in service for another 50 years.
Christopher McFadden
USS George Washington at sea, circa 2010.

U.S. Navy/Wikimedia Commons 

As reported by Naval Today, The USS George Washington, CVN 73, has officially started sea trials following a significant overhaul, refueling, and refit at HII Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Virginia. This marks the final leg in its 5-year long refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) that started in 2017. Once the sea trials are completed, this veteran of the United States Navy will reenter service as one of the most modern and capable aircraft carriers on the planet.

The USS George Washington is a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which is part of the Nimitz class. She is the fourth vessel of the US Navy named after President George Washington and was constructed by Newport News Shipbuilding. The keel was laid on August 25, 1986, and the vessel was christened on July 21, 1990. She officially went into service in 1992.

The vessel has the capability to travel at speeds exceeding 30 knots (56 kph) thanks to its two Westinghouse A4W nuclear reactors and four 5-bladed propellers, each weighing 66,220 pounds (30,040 kg). This enabled George Washington to cruise over 3,000,000 nautical miles (5,600,000 km) before requiring refueling.

The USS George Washington made history in 2008 as the first US aircraft carrier to deploy in Japan. In 2019, the carrier underwent extensive upgrades and repairs both internally and externally while undocked for its RCOH. The dry dock phase was a crucial part of the process.

The RCOH contract was valued at $2.8 billion and was originally slated for completion by August 2021. However, the COVID-19 pandemic, and a series of suicides at the dock, caused delays pushing completion to May 2023.

Newport News shipbuilders have accomplished a wide range of tasks including de-fueling and refueling its power plant, preserving around 600 tanks, and replacing numerous valves, pumps, and piping components. They also carried out significant structural updates to the island, mast, and antenna tower, upgraded all the aircraft launch and recovery equipment, painted the hull of the ship along with sea chests and freeboard, updated the propeller shafts, and installed refurbished propellers.

In August 2017, the USS George Washington made its arrival at Newport News. This marks the sixth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier to undergo the mid-life refueling overhaul and maintenance availability, known as RCOH. This process produces a revitalized carrier that can support both current and future warfare doctrine. After completing the RCOH, George Washington will be ready to operate in the US Navy fleet for the remaining 50 years of its expected service life.

It has been announced that George Washington will be forward-deployed to Japan once her overhaul is completed. She will replace the USS Ronald Reagan, which will have already been forward-deployed there for a decade.

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