Tug boats steady the bow of USS George Washington
(CVN 73) as the aircraft carrier transits from dry dock to a wet slip. The Norfolk-based Nimitz-class aircraft carrier
is currently undergoing Planned Incremental Availability and Docking (PIA+D). The availability will prepare George Washington to relieve USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) as the fleet's forward deployed carrier in 2008. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jennifer Apsey
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Katrin Albritton, USS George Washington Public
USS George Washington (CVN 73) (GW) successfully completed its move from the dry dock at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) to a pierside berth April 25, one week earlier than previously scheduled.
The berth shift marks a significant milestone in the Planned Incremental Availability and Docking (PIA+D) period before the ship heads to Japan in 2008.
“It’s very important to GW, and to the whole enterprise, that our repair and maintenance work stay on or ahead of schedule,” said GW Commanding Officer Capt. Dave Dykhoff. "Team GW made schedule adherence one of our primary goals during this shipyard period at NNSY, and we’re very pleased to be moving out of the dry dock a week early.”
The maintenance and upgrades of the ship’s electronic warfighting capabilities, berthing and head renovations, as well as the repainting of the hull were carried out during the ship’s seven months in dry dock.
Lt. Cmdr. Bill Pollitz, GW’s maintenance manager and overall availability coordinator, said the ship had reached the required milestones, such as the removal of the ship’s old mast and the subsequent installation of the new one. Each of these led the ship to the undocking; the first key event.
“We were able to exceed all previous performance standards with the main mast correction,” he said. “By working together we got a lot of the work started early and were able to complete them early. We got a lot of work done and everyone made certain their piece of the pie was completed.”
Even though the ship has succeeded in leaving dry dock, there are still milestones and key events which need to be completed. Among these upcoming tasks are the crew move-aboard, the re-tensioning of the aircraft elevators and the coating of the flight deck with non-skid.
Assessments also still need to be completed such as flight deck trough inspections, capstone, and hull mechanical and electrical testing.
Dykhoff said Team GW was ultimately responsible for the success of the availability. This team includes NNSY contractors, Earl Industries, the Alteration Installation Team, as well as the ship’s crew.
“While this schedule milestone is significant, we still have a lot of work to do,” he said. “This team is up to the task, however, and I look forward to continued great work by the shipyard, ship’s force and contractor personnel during the remainder of this availability.”
The $300 million availability will prepare GW to relieve USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) as the fleet’s forward-deployed carrier in 2008. The ship’s crew, along with contractors from NNSY, will now finish the final maintenance in preparation for the move to the “Land of the Rising Sun.”