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US Navy might retire aircraft carrier early

5th March 2019 - 18:54 GMT | by Marc Selinger in Washington, DC

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The US DoD is considering cancelling the mid-life refuelling of the US Navy’s USS Harry S Truman (CVN-75, pictured), which would free up funding but force an early retirement of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, according to several lawmakers.

Sen Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the proposal ‘mind-boggling,’ saying that it ‘makes no sense’ to sideline a carrier with more than 20 years of service left, especially after DoD recently approved the block buy of two new Ford-class carriers to save money and expand the fleet. 

The Truman, a Nimitz-class carrier, entered service in 1998.

Rep Joe Courtney, a Connecticut Democrat who chairs the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower panel, said the proposal conflicts with the navy’s goal of having 12 operational carriers, up from ten today. He pledged to seek an explanation from the navy if the retirement is included in the Trump administration’s FY2020 budget request, whose release is expected later this month.

DoD’s public affairs office referred questions about the proposal to the US Navy. A spokesman for Naval Sea Systems Command declined to comment.

According to Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding division in Newport News, Virginia, which is the only shipyard that performs refuelling and complex overhaul (RCOH) work for Nimitz-class carriers, a RCOH takes four years, is done once in a carrier’s 50-year life and includes refuelling the ship’s two nuclear reactors and making major repairs and upgrades. 

The USS George Washington (CVN-73) is currently undergoing a RCOH that is due be finished in late-2021. Newport News Shipbuilding received a $2.8 billion contract in 2017 to conduct the RCOH.

The Truman news emerged about the same time that the navy took another step toward buying a new guided-missile frigate (FFG(X)) fleet. The service on 1 March released a draft solicitation for the detail design of the FFG(X) and the construction of up to 10 of the small surface combatants. ‘FFG(X) ships must be constructed in a United States shipyard,’ the navy stated.

An industry day for the programme is scheduled for 19 March in Washington, DC. The navy plans to issue a final RfP in the fourth quarter of FY2019 and award a contract in the fourth quarter of FY2020. The navy ultimately expects to build a total of 20 FFG(X) ships.

Marc Selinger

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Marc Selinger


Marc is a freelance contributor to Shephard Media's news streams, with decades of experience writing …

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