USS Harry S Truman’s Midlife Overhaul Secured

Newport News Shipbuilding Awarded $913 Million Contract for Vital Refueling and Complex Overhaul


The USS Harry S Truman, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, previously faced uncertainty regarding its future in 2019 but is now slated to undergo its mid-life Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH). This decision follows the announcement of a $913 million advanced planning contract awarded to Newport News Shipbuilding this week.

The progression toward the midlife overhaul for the Truman marks a significant milestone, especially considering the earlier discussions in 2019 which suggested an early decommissioning by 2024. This proposed course of action, advocated by senior Pentagon officials led by then acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, aimed at achieving cost savings estimated at approximately $3.4 billion over five years and up to $30 billion throughout the ship’s remaining service life.

However, opposition from Congress and then President Trump resulted in the reversal of plans for the carrier’s early retirement. The USS Harry S Truman, christened in 1996 and commissioned in 1998, originally had an out-of-service date projected for the early 2060s. Throughout its operational history, the Truman has played pivotal roles in various missions, including the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the 2016 mission against ISIS, and recent extended deployments during the pandemic.

As one of the 10 Nimitz-class ships constructed by Newport News Shipbuilding, the USS Harry S Truman is an impressive vessel, measuring nearly 1,100 feet (333 meters) in length and boasting a displacement of 102,000 deadweight tons (dwt). With a crew complement exceeding 550 officers and nearly 5,500 enlisted personnel, including approximately 2,500 in its air wing, the Truman stands as a symbol of maritime prowess.

The commencement of the refueling and overhaul project involves several critical phases, including engineering, design, material procurement and fabrication, documentation, resource forecasting, and pre-overhaul inspections. While the exact timeline for the carrier’s arrival at the Virginia yard has not been specified, comprehensive planning is deemed essential for the success of such a large-scale engineering endeavor.

According to Rob Check, Newport News Shipbuilding’s vice president of in-service aircraft carrier programs, thorough planning is crucial for the successful execution of the overhaul process. Each RCOH represents a substantial portion of maintenance and modernization efforts throughout a carrier’s 50-year service life.

The RCOH project entails extensive modifications, repairs, and upgrades to various aspects of the carriers, ranging from the hull to mechanical and electrical systems. Additionally, enhancements are made to the electronics managing communications and warfare systems, with a pivotal aspect being the refueling of the ship’s two nuclear reactors. The overarching objective of the RCOH is to extend the carriers’ operational lifespan by another 25 years.

Presently, the USS John C. Stennis is undergoing its RCOH at the Newport News Shipbuilding yard, while the USS George Washington recently completed its overhaul after encountering challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, supplier interruptions, and competing resource requirements. Despite delays, the RCOH remains a critical component in ensuring the readiness and effectiveness of the United States Navy’s carrier fleet.


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