USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) has arrived at Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding facility to begin its mid-life refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH), Naval Sea Systems Command officials told USNI News on Thursday.The early Thursday move occurred in anticipation of a Friday award of a contract to HII for the $3.3 billion overhaul, according to several sources familiar with the contract.The award of Lincoln’s RCOH was delayed six weeks due to weeks of congressional budget battles over a yearlong Continuing Resolution and mandatory sequestration cuts that prevented the Navy from issuing the contract.
Passage of the latest federal Continuing Resolution, signed into law by President Barack Obama on Tuesday, included a modified version the long awaited Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Appropriations Bill which gave the Navy the funds to carry out the RCOH, NAVSEA officials told USNI News.
“Congress approved legislation last week that will avert a partial government shutdown and provide funding to federal agencies through Sept. 30, the end of the government’s 2013 fiscal year,” wrote Matt Mulherin, Newport News Shipbuilding president, in a Wednesday message to employees obtained by USNI News.
“The bill provides more than $3 billion for our aircraft carrier work, including the Lincoln RCOH, completing the USS Theodore Roosevelt RCOH, the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) inactivation, and the start of construction for John F. Kennedy (CVN-79).”
Initial work for the Lincoln RCOH was begun by HII in February with $92 million in funds from FY 2012, NAVSEA officials told USNI News at the time.
“This allowed RCOH preparations to continue pierside at Naval Station Norfolk, minimizing impact to the CVN-72 RCOH,” read a late Wednesday statement from NAVSEA.
The ship left Naval Station Norfolk at 5:00 am EST and was towed the Newport News yard.
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Each Nimitz-class carrier undergoes a four-year RCOH at the halfway point in its 50-year service life. Without the refueling, Lincoln would not have been deployable, according to Navy officials.
The delay in Lincoln’s refueling was one of the most visible effects of the battles over the defense budget in the last six weeks. Along with the Navy’s carrier presence reduction in the Middle East, the delay in the RCOH was one of the most cited examples of the effects of budget belt tightening in the Pentagon.