With Lincoln Redelivery, Navy is Halfway Through Nimitz-class Refuelings
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARLINGTION, Va. — Huntington Ingalls Industries has redelivered the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) to the Navy following successful sea trials that tested the ship’s systems following its refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) at the company’s Newport News Shipbuilding division in Newport News, Va., the company announced in a May 12 release.
“The successful completion of sea trials and redelivery of the ship to the Navy is the culmination of over 48 months of teamwork between Newport News shipbuilders, the CVN 72 crew, our government partners and all of our suppliers,” Chris Miner, Newport News’ vice president, in-service aircraft carrier programs, said in the release. “The completion of the refueling and complex overhaul returns a fully recapitalized ship to the fleet, ready to support any mission and serve our nation for another 25 years.”
Abraham Lincoln is the fifth ship of the Nimitz class to complete an RCOH, marking the halfway point in the program to sustain the service live of each Nimitz-class carrier out to 50 years. The main limiting factor is the life of the ship’s two nuclear reactors, which are refueled once in the ship’s career, doubling the service life to 50 years.
The lead ship, USS Nimitz, began its RCOH on May 26, 1998. It was followed in succession by USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, USS Carl Vinson and USS Theodore Roosevelt before the turn for Abraham Lincoln arrived for its 48-month RCOH. The sixth Nimitz carrier, USS George Washington, will enter the Newport News Shipbuilding yard this summer for its RCOH.
“The RCOH process is performed only once during the ship’s 50-year lifetime and involves upgrades to nearly every space and system on the ship,” the release said. “Tanks, the hull, shafting, propellers, rudders, piping, ventilation, electrical, combat and aviation support systems were repaired, upgraded and modernized. Work also included defueling and refueling the ship’s two nuclear reactors and repairs and upgrades to the propulsion plant.”
“Every Sailor, shipyard worker and contractor involved with RCOH and redelivery should be standing tall as we bring this mighty warship back home to Norfolk and put her back into service for the U.S. Navy,” Capt. Ronald Ravelo, Lincoln’s commanding officer, said in the release. “Getting Lincoln back into the fight was truly an all-hands effort, and I could not be more proud of the crew who helped make that happen.”
Newport News Shipbuilding also has completed Builder’s Trials of the next-generation aircraft, the future USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) and is building or acquiring materials for the next two carriers, John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) and Enterprise (CVN 80).
The Navy’s battle fleet includes 10 aircraft carriers — one of which is in RCOH at any given time — of 11 authorized by Congress. The Navy’s 2016 Force Structure Assessment called for fleet growth to 355 ships, including a force of 12 carriers.