Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding division has completed the installation of the final piece of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington’s (CVN 73) new main mast.

The shipyard landed the 34ft, 32t upper mast section, which is the final piece of the main mast.

The ship’s profile has now been raised 123ft above the flight deck. The milestone was marked by a mast-stepping ceremony.

Newport News Shipbuilding division has now completed 50% of the refuelling and complex overhaul (RCOH) of CVN 73.

Newport News in-service aircraft carrier programmes vice-president Chris Miner said: “Landing the upper mast is one of the most visible construction milestones in the mid-life refuelling overhaul and maintenance availability of an aircraft carrier.

“We are making significant progress with George Washington and look forward to returning a fully recapitalised, mission-ready ship to the fleet.”

“We are making significant progress with George Washington and look forward to returning a fully recapitalised, mission-ready ship to the fleet for another 25 years of service.”

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During the mast-stepping ceremony, a time capsule containing photos, a piece of the old mast, several coins and other artifacts were attached to a metal plate, which is set to be welded under the mast.

USS George Washington commanding officer captain Glenn Jamison said: “Now, with this new mast signifying the progress we’re making during RCOH, USS George Washington is ready to carry on the mantle of representing the navy as only General George Washington could have imagined and wanted.”

CVN 73 arrived at the shipyard in August 2017 to undergo complex engineering and construction.

The vessel is currently in dry dock for hull and freeboard blasting and painting. Newport News will also carry out repairs to the ship’s propellers, sea chests, shafts and rudders, as well as defuel and refuel its power plant.

HII expects to deliver USS George Washington in 2021.