Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) announced that its Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) division has received a $290 million contract modification from the US Navy to continue planning for the refuelling and complex overhaul (RCOH) of the nuclear powered Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).
The contract funds the second and third years of planning, long-lead-time material procurement, shop fabrication, shipboard inspections, and facilities readiness for the RCOH. As part of the planning contract, Newport News also will perform some shipboard work, which will take place in Norfolk. The initial year of planning was funded at a base value of $187.5 million.
The second and third year of planning is important to the overall success of a project of the magnitude of an RCOH, said Chris Miner, Newport News’ vice president of in-service aircraft carriers. This contract allows us to continue our critical planning for each step of the process so we’re ready to begin execution when the ship arrives in the first quarter of 2021, he added.
USS John C. Stennis will be the seventh Nimitz-class carrier to undergo a major life-cycle overhaul at Newport News, representing 35 percent of all maintenance and modernization completed during its service life.
A midlife refuelling and complex overhaul usually comes after 25 years of service of a nuclear powered Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. The process lasts for 3-4 years and involves replacement of used nuclear fuel as well as general overhaul, repair and modernization of the vessel. Upon commencement of the program, the carrier is ready to continue operational service for the next quarter of a century, until it is eventually phased out.
USS John C. Stennis is the seventh out of ten Nimitz-class nuclear powered aircraft carriers in US Navy’s inventory. In the next decades, these vessels will be gradually decommissioned due to expiration of their service life, and replaced by new generation carriers of the Gerald R. Ford class, which are currently built by HII.
However, the Gerald R. Ford program faces a number of significant problems, most of them related to technical issues resulting from platform’s immature design. In result, delivery and commissioning of the first in the class vessel, the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), was delayed for years. The program’s budget has also seen several costly overruns, leading to wide criticism of the whole project.