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USS Carl Vinson a step closer to completing F-35C upgrade

USS Carl Vinson in dry dock
USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) departed Dry Dock 6 on April 6, 2020. Photo: US Navy

US Navy’s third Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) left a dry dock at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility, as it inches closer to completing a maintenance that will prepare the ship for the operation of F-35C stealth fighters.

Vinson departed Dry Dock 6 on April 6, after spending 14 months undergoing a Docking Planned Incremental Availability period.

During Carl Vinson’s DPIA, shipyard workers, contractors and members of the ship’s force, maintained major components of the ship and prepared the carrier to embark an F-35C Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter Squadron.

The carrier is expected to embark the navy’s first F-35C squadron, the VFA-147, for a 2021 deployment.

“As we all watch the news and see the ways COVID-19 is challenging our nation and our Navy, we remain committed to delivering ships to support the warfighters’ needs,” said Capt. Dianna Wolfson, commander, PSNS & IMF. “The current pandemic has certainly challenged us, but we pulled together as a team, alongside the ship’s force and all of our other partners to get this aircraft carrier back in the water.”

According to Mike Irby, the project superintendent, the reduction of the workforce due to COVID-19 precautions did not dampen his team’s efforts.

“Despite the challenges, the shipyard and the project team maintained their focus and successfully prioritized undocking the ship,” said Irby.

The Carl Vinson project team got a head start on the DPIA by ensuring certain work was done in San Diego before the ship came to Bremerton in January 2019.

The team conducted multiple ship visits and assessments to fully scope the work required before the ship arrived, and leveraged lessons learned and improvements that were implemented during the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) DPIA at PSNS & IMF from March 2018 to June 2019.

Some of the work completed included upgrades to electrical systems, maintenance on rudders, shafts and tanks, upgrades to crew living spaces and upgrades to the ship’s combat systems.

According to Irby the shafts, rudders and bearings had significant material deficiencies that delayed the undocking, while both rudders, rudder bores and struts also required extensive repairs. Due to the massive amount of growth work, the availability is currently projected to finish three weeks late.