The Navy is weighing if it will extend the life of USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) past its planned 2027 inactivation date, USNI News has learned.
While Ike is listed as departing the fleet just a year after USS Nimitz (CVN-68) as part the latest long-range shipbuilding plan, service officials are considering the viability of squeezing one more deployment out of the 46-year-old aircraft carrier before its planned inactivation, a defense official told USNI News.
The largest limiting factor will be the amount of nuclear fuel left in the carrier, USNI News understands. The carriers are planned to sail in the fleet for 50-years with a mid-life refueling and overhaul. The service keeps the exact level of fuel aboard each carrier secret.
In a statement to USNI News, the service said it considers Nimitz-class carrier life extensions on a hull-by-hull basis.
“The Navy carefully manages aircraft carrier inventory, including during the end-of-life process. The service life extension of the USS Nimitz allowed the Navy to get more service out of the first Nimitz-class carrier, proving the resilience and utility of that design, which will continue to serve in the fleet through the 2050s. Service life of carriers is managed on a hull-by-hull basis, and the Navy has multiple options for ensuring that carriers, when the reach their end-of-life, have a safe place to either begin, or wait to begin, the end-of-life process.”
The Navy elected to extend the older Nimitz for one more deployment. The carrier will undergo a five-and-a-half-month maintenance availability that will carry it into May 2026.
“Expected total cost of the yard period is $200M, currently requested in the budget. Projections supporting prior budget submissions had already accounted for the cost of a shorter, 60-day avail to enable operations out to the original retirement in April 2025, so supplementing the originally scheduled yard period to the appropriately scoped length of 5-1/2 months is an additional cost to the Navy of approximately $90M for the [service life extension],” reads the statement.
The possible life extension comes as the Navy is continuing to manage its Nimitz-class carrier force, which has been pushed hard in the last decade as the follow-on Ford-class entered the service later than anticipated.
On Tuesday, first-in-class USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) left on its first worldwide deployment six years after it commissioned in 2017.