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USS George Washington Returns to Naval Station Norfolk

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070901-02
Release Date: 9/1/2007 8:13:00 AM

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tanner Lange, USS George Washington Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- After completing a 11-month, $300 million availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard on time and within budget, USS George Washington (CVN 73) (GW) returned to its homeport of Naval Station Norfolk after four days of sea trials Aug. 27-30.

Sea trials represented the final step in the availability period, and provided the opportunity to assess GW’s material readiness and suitability to rejoin the fleet as a fully operational unit.

“Sea trials went extremely well and showcased the incredible teamwork between our Sailors and the men and women at Norfolk Naval Shipyard; that teamwork allowed us to deliver GW on time and within budget,” said Commanding Officer, Capt. Dave Dykhoff. “The comprehensive tests conducted during sea trials really demonstrated the quality of that effort.”

One of the major evolutions conducted involved testing GW’s weapons systems, which were upgraded according to a new program called Capstone that featured the installation of a new ship’s main mast and all associated systems. The multitude of Capstone upgrades enhanced the detection capabilities of the ship, in addition to enabling GW to join in providing an integrated defense of all strike group ships through the use of “cooperative engagement capability.”

Additionally, the ship’s close-in weapons system mounts have been upgraded to Block 1 Bravo, providing a surface capability and optical sighting. While each new system had to be tested individually, the coordination and integration of weapon systems also had to be tested collectively.

“The Capstone upgrade is a significant improvement to GW’s self-defense capability, and sea trials really put the new systems to the test,” said Combat Systems Officer, Cmdr. Mark Loose. “We ran several tracking exercises with a contracted Lear jet to help align the system and prove that everything was working properly.”

During sea trials, GW’s crew worked hard to energize all equipment and complete the ship’s test schedule, completing many key milestones. Air Department Sailors were able to meet numerous flight deck training objectives while also achieving GW’s fuel certification ahead of schedule. Engineering Department Sailors successfully met certification when testing their aqueous film forming foam shipboard firefighting stations in the ship’s hangar bay and on the flight deck.

Deck Department Sailors played a major role in the undocking of the ship and continued to train during the underway to prepare for the upcoming evolutions they will face at sea. They trained new Sailors in standing proper lookout watches as well as step-by-step procedures for underway replenishments and manning the boat deck during man overboard and casualty drills.

“You can’t go into any of these evolutions blind, you have to be heads up for what’s going on out here,” said Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class (SW) Brandon Kahm. “The step-by-step training we [received] puts everybody on the same page and helps prevent injury and damaged equipment.”

GW returned to U.S. 2nd Fleet operations Aug. 30 and will commence preparations to shift its homeport to Yokosuka, Japan during the summer of 2008.

“Now that sea trials and the availability are successfully behind us, we look forward to getting this ship ready to relieve USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) and become the Navy’s only forward deployed aircraft carrier, which is a vital part of our nation’s security,” Dykhoff said.

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