Aircraft carrier George Washington headed to Norfolk
The aircraft carrier USS George Washington is scheduled to arrive in Norfolk on Thursday, bringing with it nearly 4,500 sailors, the Navy announced Friday.
The move completes an historic three-carrier swap that involves the USS Theodore Roosevelt and the USS Ronald Reagan. The George Washington will stay in Norfolk for several months before moving to Newport News Shipbuilding, where it will undergo a mid-life refueling and complex overhaul that will last nearly four years and cost in excess of $4 billion.
After spending seven years in Yokosuka, Japan, the George Washington sailed to San Diego this summer and swapped part of its crew with the Reagan. Then the Reagan sailed on to Japan, taking the Washington's place.
The Washington moved on from San Diego, sailing around South America while participating in various exercises, heading toward Norfolk.
Meanwhile, the Theodore Roosevelt left Norfolk in March on a combat deployment lasting more than eight months. It arrived in San Diego last month to take the place of the Reagan.
The George Washington is commanded by Capt. Timothy Kuehhas.
More than a year ago, the ship's future was the focus of an intense debate in Washington. When the Defense Department rolled out its 2015 budget, Navy leaders said they wanted to keep the George Washington in the fleet, but they would propose removing it from service if deep budget cuts returned in 2016.
That sparked a protest from the Virginia congressional delegation and concern from officials at Newport News shipyard. Ultimately, Congress restored the money, but the Washington's refueling was still delayed.
When the Washington arrives at Newport News, it will replace the USS Abraham Lincoln, which is nearing he end of its mid-life overhaul. The Lincoln is scheduled to leave the shipyard in the fourth quarter of 2016
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