Home » Budget Industry » Carrier Lincoln Redelivers to the Navy After 4-Year Refueling and Complex Overhaul

Carrier Lincoln Redelivers to the Navy After 4-Year Refueling and Complex Overhaul

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) conducts high-speed turn drills during sea trials on May 11, 2017. Abraham Lincoln is underway after successfully completing its mid-life refueling and complex overhaul and will spend several days conducting sea trials, a comprehensive test of many of the ship’s key systems and technologies. US Navy photo.

Newport News Industries redelivered nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) to the U.S. Navy after completing the carrier’s four-year mid-life Refueling and Complex Overhaul.

The aircraft carrier was redelivered on May 12, after four days of sea trials that tested the ship’s systems and ensured the carrier was ready to resume training and deploying. The Nimitz-class carriers are built to last 50 years, with an RCOH halfway through its service life to refuel the nuclear power plant, replace the flight deck and modernize computer and warfighting systems throughout the ship. Lincoln’s midlife RCOH is the fifth one, all completed by Newport News Shipbuilding on Nimitz-class carriers – with the nuclear-powered ex-USS Enterprise (CVN-65) having gone through several smaller RCOHs during its service life.

“The successful completion of sea trials and redelivery of the ship to the Navy is the culmination of over 48 months of teamwork between Newport News shipbuilders, the CVN-72 crew, our government partners and all of our suppliers,” Chris Miner, Newport News’ vice president of in-service aircraft carrier programs, said in a company news release.
“The completion of the refueling and complex overhaul returns a fully recapitalized ship to the fleet, ready to support any mission and serve our nation for another 25 years.”


Lincoln’s RCOH began in March 2013 and has included more than 2.5 million man-hours of labor, according to a Navy news release. Upgrades include repairing, replacing and modernizing tanks, the hull, shafting, propellers, rudders, piping, ventilation, electrical, combat and aviation support systems. Workers also defueled and then refueled the ship’s two nuclear reactors. At the height of the work, 4,000 shipbuilders at Newport News were assigned to the Lincoln RCOH.

“Every Sailor, shipyard worker and contractor involved with RCOH and redelivery should be standing tall as we bring this mighty warship back home to Norfolk and put her back into service for the U.S. Navy,” Capt. Ronald Ravelo, Lincoln’s commanding officer, said in the Navy news release.
“Getting Lincoln back into the fight was truly an all-hands effort, and I could not be more proud of the crew who helped make that happen.”

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) conducts high-speed turn drills in the Atlantic Ocean during sea trials on May 11, 2017. US Navy photo.

For the past year, the Navy was effectively fighting with eight carriers in the fleet. USS George Washington (CVN-73), which will begin its RCOH this summer, has been sidelined since December 2015, awaiting its turn at Newport News. GW had been the forward-deployed carrier in Japan and was part of a three-way carrier swap leading up to its RCOH, which was scheduled to begin in Fall 2016. Since then, as it awaited its RCOH, GW has not had the fuel to conduct another deployment but rather has supported pilot training and special testing, including for the MAGIC CARPET carrier landing system, in local waters.

With Lincoln’s return to the fleet, the Navy will have nine in its training and deployment rotation. GW would return to the fleet in 2021, and the newest aircraft carrier, Gerald R. Ford, will deliver to the Navy soon and commission later this year but likely won’t go on its maiden deployment until 2021 as well.

  • Marjus Plaku

    Just thinking outside the box here, but looking at the high speed turn pictures of the carriers has me thinking what would happen if you placed either a fixed or retractable bow/forward mounted rudder/plane for large surface ships.

    Would it increase their maneuverability? Similar to how canards affect fighter jets and bow planes submarines?

    • USNVO

      A forward rudder would improve turning radius slightly but would come with significant costs.
      – more drag, deeper draft, and more exposed to damage, not to mention additional complexity.
      – minimal effectiveness at slow speed since there is no propellor wash across the rudder.
      – as ship turn the pivot point moves forward, you can see this in the picture. So, a forward rudder loses effectiveness since it is closer to the pivot point while an after rudder is enhanced by greater leverage arm. On a conventional displacement monohull, especially one as big as a carrier, a forward rudder’s effect would not justify their expense.

      Bow thrusters can be used to enhance low speed maneuvering and some Tugs and other low speed ships that need exceptional maneuvering sometimes use forward mounted Z-drive or Voight-Schneider vertical propellors, but they are generally limited in speed much like a bow thruster.

    • Donald Carey

      If one were able to turn the ship sharply enough it might heel over far enough to cause problems…

  • Hugh

    The pitching forces during storms would break anything fixed – hence why bilge keels are not installed in the fwd 1/3 hull length.

  • publius_maximus_III

    After a 4-year overhaul, does that mean the USS Lincoln will ship out with a mostly new crew from before, since a standard USN/USMC hitch is four years? Sure there are some officers and CPO’s who are lifers, but my guess most of our service men and women aren’t making a career of the military these days.