USS George Washington (CVN-73) has left HIII’s Newport News Shipbuilding for sea trials after almost six years at the shipyard undergoing a mid-life refueling and overhaul, USNI News has learned.
The carrier departed the shipyard and sailed down the James River for the Atlantic Ocean at about noon Monday, a Navy official confirmed to USNI News. The sea trials, expected to last several days, follow the 2,117-day maintenance period that refueled the carrier’s two nuclear reactors, modernized systems and refurbished the ship’s interior. The Navy typically plans for the refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) to take four years.
From 2008 to 2015, George Washington was the Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier in Japan. The different maintenance schedule, the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on HII’s workforce and delays in funding the mid-life maintenance period contributed to the extended repair period.
“Factors that extended the RCOH included delays and changes in her RCOH planning and induction timeline due to FY15 budgetary decisions to inactivate (vice refuel) this ship; the arrival condition of the ship, which was more challenging than expected, planned or budgeted for, including growth work in significant areas of the RCOH; the requirement to remove critical parts from CVN-73 to support higher-priority, deploying aircraft carriers; and the impact of COVID-19 on the workforce and industrial base,” reads an HII statement to USNI News.
The carrier’s sailaway comes days after the Navy released an extensive report that outlined quality of life problems for the crew assigned to the carrier while it was in the shipyard. From 2017 through April of 2022, nine sailors assigned to the carrier died by suicide, prompting the quality of life investigation.
The next carrier slated for its mid-life overhaul, USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74), has been at Newport News shipbuilding since May 2021.
Following its delivery back to the Navy, Washington will return to Japan and relieve carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), which will return to the U.S.