The US Navy’s fifth Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) has received a new upper-level structure as part of its refuelling and complex overhaul (RCOH), at Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding.
Reported to be one of the largest structure lifts to be performed during the RCOH process, the 88ft-long and 32ft-wide upper-level structure is similar to an airport control tower and houses the ship’s primary flight control systems, while serving as the platform for several radars and antenna systems.
The RCOH process, performed as part of the navy’s $2.6bn cost-plus-incentive-fee contract awarded in April 2013, involves refuelling the reactors and carrying out extensive modernisation work on over 2,300 compartments, 600 tanks and hundreds of systems.
Newport News in-service aircraft carrier programmes vice-president Chris Miner said that an RCOH is an extremely complex engineering and construction project that requires more than 30 months of advance planning and more than three years to accomplish.
"This lift represents just one of many significant events we complete to return this ship to the navy fully equipped and modernised to defend our nation for another 25 years," Miner said.
The nuclear-powered aircraft carriers are put through the RCOH process at least once in their 50-year service life.
The process also involves joint strike fighter (JSF) modifications and modernisations to the flight deck, catapults, combat systems and the island to recapitalise the ship.
Armed with three Raytheon GMLS Mk29 eight-cell launchers for Nato Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missiles, the 317m-long Nimitz-class ships can accommodate more than 6,000 personnel and cruise at a maximum speed of over 30k.
Upon the scheduled redelivery in 2016, the 102,000t USS Abraham Lincoln will form a vital part of national defence and will be a technologically advanced Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.
Image: The installation of an upper-level structure on USS Abraham Lincoln at Newport News Shipyard. Photo: courtesy of Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc.