USS George Washington (CVN 73), the US Navy’s sixth Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, entered the second half of its operational service after undergoing a 69-month-long refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) process.
The USS George Washington underwent a $2.8 billion refueling complex overhaul at Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) starting on August 4, 2017, and concluded it on May 25, 2023, in Norfolk, Virginia.
The CVN 73 RCOH process extended over five years due to the need to address challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, supplier interruptions, and competing resource requirements, as Rear Adm. James P. Downey, Program Executive Office Aircraft Carriers, explained.
Refueling complex overhauls are conducted at the midpoint of a ship’s service life, typically spanning over 50 years. They involve incorporating upgrades to propulsion equipment, infrastructure, and combat support systems, as well as comprehensive testing of ships operating systems, to ensure readiness for deployment.
In 2024, the CVN 73 is set to return to the US 7th Fleet and assume the role of the forward-deployed Naval Forces-Japan (FDNF-J) aircraft carrier, taking over from USS Ronald Reagan.
This will be the ship’s second term as the FDNF-J aircraft carrier, following its historic arrival in Japan in 2008 as the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to be forward-deployed there.
“George Washington’s RCOH represents 26 million man-hours of work, that involved refitting and installing a new main mast, updating the ship’s shafts, refurbishing propellers, and modernizing aircraft launch and recovery equipment,” said Capt. Mark Johnson, manager of the PEO Aircraft Carriers In-Service Aircraft Carrier Program Office
“The work enhanced nearly every space and system on the carrier, from the hull, screws, and rudders to more than 600 tanks; thousands of valve, pumps, and piping components; electrical cables and ventilation; as well as combat and aviation support systems. Beyond the critical need to defuel and refuel the ship’s two nuclear reactors and to repair and upgrade the propulsion plant, this work touched every part of the ship—and challenged every member of the planning team and ship’s force,” he added.
USS George Washington is 1,092 feet (333 m) long, 257 ft (78 m) wide, and 244 ft (74 m) high. This aircraft carrier has the capability to accommodate around 90 aircraft and is powered by two Westinghouse A4W nuclear reactors.
The ship is capable of achieving speeds exceeding 30 knots (56 km), with the propulsion system allowing the vessel to cover over 3,000,000 nautical miles (5,600,000 km) before requiring refueling.
The USS George Washington is expected to complete its service life in 2048 or beyond.