Shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries was awarded a $49.6-million contract by the U.S. Department of Defense to cover the costs of planning for defueling nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73.) The contract covers engineering and shipboard inspections over a 12-month period.
USS George Washington is Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, and the fourth U.S. Navy ship to be named after the first president. Construction on the ship began by Newport News Shipbuilding in 1986 and it was commissioned in 1992.
The vessel would be due for “midlife” Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH) in 2016, though it has been reported that the Navy would replace the George Washington in service in the Western Pacific with the USS Ronald Reagan, rather than investing the estimated $3 billion to recondition the older ship and maintain it for continued use.
RCOH is a standard procedure for nuclear-powered ships that involves replacing spent nuclear fuel with new fuel and conducting general maintenance and renovation, or even modernization of the entire ship. The process may take up to two years for submarines and nearly three years for an aircraft carrier.
Newport News Shipbuilding is an HHI subsidiary that will carry out the new contract. If the RCOH is approved for CVN 73, it will be the sixth ship of the Nimitz class to undergo the process.
"We are pleased to be able to begin planning for the defueling of CVN 73," stated Chris Miner, Newport News Shipbuilding's vice president for in-service aircraft carrier programs. "We hope this award is a first step toward the highly anticipated full award of the RCOH planning contract."
Huntington Ingalls Industries designs, builds and manages lifecycle for nuclear and conventionally-powered ships for the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard.