USS George Washington to Depart for Japan via South America

April 24, 2024 10:44 AM
USS George Washington (CVN-73) returning from sea trials on May 25, 2023. HII Photo

Carrier USS George Washington (CVN-73) is set to depart Naval Station Norfolk, Va., this week for its new homeport in Japan, the Navy announced on Wednesday.
George Washington is scheduled to leave Norfolk on Thursday to sail down the coast of the U.S., through the Caribbean Sea and enter the Pacific by rounding Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America.

The carrier will be part of U.S. 4th Fleet’s Southern Seas 2024 event that will team Washington up with the guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78), and Henry J. Kaiser-class replenishment oiler USNS John Lenthall (T-AO-189). The carrier will embark with a partial air wing from Carrier Air Wing 7, Naval Air Force Atlantic announced. Outlined earlier this month, Southern Seas will have the U.S. group sail with warships from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Uruguay. Washington plans to make port calls in Brazil, Chile and Peru. An international staff will of about 24 officers from 11 partner nations will serve on the carrier.

“This international staff will receive instruction from U.S. Naval War College professors and will work alongside embarked Destroyer Squadron 40 personnel,” reads a statement from U.S. Southern Command.

The international staff will include officers from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, the Netherlands, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Following Southern Seas 2024, George Washington will relieve USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) as the forward-deployed naval forces (FDNF) aircraft carrier during a historic carrier swap at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., this summer. This will mark the second time George Washington has served as the FDNF aircraft carrier, arriving in Japan in 2008 as the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to be forward deployed to Japan before being relieved by Ronald Reagan in 2015,” reads a statement from Naval Air Force Atlantic.

Following the transfer, Reagan will head to Washington state for an overhaul before its permanent homeport assignment.

Prior to this week’s planned departure, George Washington completed its midlife nuclear refueling and complex overhaul at HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia. The normally four-year-long maintenance period stretched to just short of six years due to a number of factors, including supply chain issues and workforce problems that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Washington began the RCOH period on Aug. 4, 2017, and redelivered to the Navy on May 25, 2023.

During the RCOH, the Navy conducted an extensive quality of life study that revealed sailors living aboard the carrier had some of the toughest living conditions in the Department of Defense. The investigation followed the death by suicide of nine GW sailors from 2017 to 2022.

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
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