Extra carrier available

Vinson to stay in Bremerton extra year

The USS Carl Vinson will not enter the Newport News yard in Virginia for a planned three-year overhaul and refueling. Instead, she will base in Bremerton, WA, until some time next year. It’s been determined that the Vinson’s nuclear fuel is sufficient and that she doesn’t need any major repairs. The Navy wants to keep an extra carrier ready, just in case.

Navy officials said the delay also represents a good use of resources.

“It makes sense to do that — to get as much out of the fuel as you can,” Bowman said.

Thrifty, aren’t we? Also, there’s this:

Once the Navy decided to delay the Vinson, it set off a major domino effect in the ship and submarine maintenance schedule.

Now, the supercarrier USS George Washington’s one-year dry dock period will be moved from Norfolk Naval Shipyard to Newport News in fiscal year 2005.

Thus, Norfolk will receive a submarine maintenance project from Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and be given the extended work on the carrier USS John F. Kennedy, which the Navy admitted Thursday was in much poorer shape than previously thought.

That backs up statements by PSNS crews, which have been working on Kennedy much of this year in Florida. PSNS workers have said the aging carrier’s condition had greatly deteriorated.

“This really does reach back to the fact over the last six to eight years we’ve probably not done all the maintenance that we really should’ve done,” Young said.

The Kennedy, which is not nuclear-powered, is suffering the side effects of drastic military budget cuts in the 1990s. It isn’t mentioned if the decision to keep the Vinson available is due to the fact that the Kennedy may not be ready in time. Also, the brand-new USS Ronald Reagan is due to arrive at its permanent home in San Diego next year, so the Vinson going down after that won’t leave us short-handed. And the Kennedy should be afloat again by then.

Hmmm. What could we possibly need another carrier available next year in the Pacific Ocean for? Anyone? Anyone? (Thanks to Strategy Page (Oct 11 post) for the heads up)