Following its fueling and extensive maintenance, the United States Ship George Washington (USS George Washington) was delivered back to the United States Navy by the Newport News Shipbuilding branch of HII.
The last deployment of the American aircraft carrier USS George Washington [CVN-73, Nimitz class] occurred in October 2016, with the mission of delivering humanitarian aid to Haiti following the passage of Hurricane Matthew. This ship, which entered service in 1992, has not been in operation since spending nearly six years at the Newport [Virginia] shipyard as part of a significant technical closure (or RCOH, for Refuelling and Complex Overhaul). RCOH extended the ship’s life expectancy by 25 years. The duration of these multi-billion RCOHs is typically set at four years.
The USS Washington was the first aircraft carrier to be deployed as part of the Forward Deployed Naval Force Japan (FDNF-J) programme 2008. In 2015, the USS Reagan relieved it.
2015 was a year in which the Pentagon struggled with severe financial restrictions, and as a result, the future of the USS George Washington seemed cloudy. It was necessary to remove it from service to save money on the mid-life modernisation that was anticipated to cost $3 billion. Congress finally decided to put the ship in a dry dock in August 2017.
In 2017, Newport News Shipbuilding was awarded the $2.8 billion RCOH contract to refurbish CVN 73, a lengthy 69-month undertaking.
This major technical shutdown was carried out to reload its two nuclear reactors and repair or replace its infrastructure like hull, propellers, rudders, pipelines, electrical, aeronautical installations, etc. and its numerous combat systems. It was anticipated that the construction site would be operational for three years.
“This RCOH has been challenging on many fronts,” the US Navy admitted in a statement released last week to declare that the USS George Washington had been transferred to it. This is because of the covid-19 pandemic, competing resource demands and vendor issues.
The project manager of Shipbuilder HII provided alternative explanations for this delay. In addition to the pandemic, he mentioned budgetary uncertainties, the USS George Washington’s condition upon arrival in Newport, and labour issues.
Refitting and installing a new main mast, updating the ship’s shafts, refurbishing propellers, and modernising aircraft launch and recovery equipment required 26 million man-hours, according to Capt. Mark Johnson, the manager of the Naval Sea Systems Command’s Programme Executive Office, In-Service Aircraft Carriers. In addition to the critical need to defuel and refuel the ship’s two nuclear reactors and repair and upgrade the propulsion plant, he said this work affected every element of the ship and challenged every member of the planning team and ship’s force.
During this downtime, the US Navy removed certain components from this ship and installed them on other aircraft carriers, delaying the work. Notably, the Royal Navy in the United Kingdom performed the same with the HMS Prince of Wales to finish outfitting the HMS Queen Elizabeth. The HMS Prince of Wales had been rendered inoperable due to significant damage to one of its shaft lines.
In addition, ten of the ship’s crew members committed suicide between 2021 and 2022, making this ATM notable. The US Navy acknowledged in one of its investigations that living conditions on board the aircraft carrier were “extremely challenging.”
The ship undertook a four-day sea trial to evaluate the effectiveness of new technology and equipment and its operating systems and manoeuvrability.
The USS George Washington will replace the USS Ronald Reagan in Japan in 2024 and become a part of the United States Seventh Fleet. Note that the USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) is now undergoing a midlife upgrade and that the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) will be taken out of service in either 2025 or 2027.
MQ-25A Stingray capability
One of the improvements that have been added to the USS George Washington as part of the modifications is the MQ-25A Stingray, an unmanned aircraft with a length of 50 feet that is designed to increase the range of the carrier air wing as well as refuel other planes while they are in flight.
The United States Navy has spent the last five years perfecting the MQ-25 Stingray, a stealthy unmanned tanker plane that can also do intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR).
The Stingray has a range of 500 nautical miles and can midair refill 16,000 pounds of gasoline to planes like the F-18 Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler, and F-35C Lightning II stealth fighters.
The MQ-25 won’t be ready for deployment until perhaps the middle of the 2020s, and USS George Washington will head back to Japan before it gets its first MQ-25As.