Newport News Yard Lays Keel For Carrier 'George Washington'
The recent keel laying for the George Washington (CVN-73), which will be the Navy's sixth Nimitz Class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, marked two firsts in Newport News Shipbuilding's 100-year history.
The placement of the Washington's 730-ton keel section in Shipway #12 represents the first time two aircraft carriers will be assembled simultaneously in a single shipway. Ship way #12 is the largest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. The Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) is currently under construction in the inboard section and is scheduled for delivery to the Navy in 1990.
NNS vice president John Graham said that prior to the launching of the Lincoln, the partially completed Washington will be watertight and able to be floated out of the outboard end of the shipway. After the Lincoln is floated out of the shipway, the Washington will be brought back into the shipway for completion, and repositioned on the same keel blocks that supported the Lincoln. This procedure will mark another first for us, he said. The Washington's keel laying represents a continuation of the modular construction techniques Newport News uses to build aircraft carriers. "We've learned many lessons from building the Theodore Roosevelt," Mr. Graham said, "and we will continue to improve on efficiencies as we progress on both the Lincoln and the Washington." Extensive use of computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/ CAM) are credited for building current aircraft carriers faster than previous carriers. Modular construction techniques and the greater super lift capability of the shipyard's 900-ton-capacity gantry crane that spans the shipway, are also responsible for the anticipated earlier deliveries.
Nimitz Class carriers are 1,092 feet long and carry a 6,000-man crew and about 100 aircraft. They have a 4 Vz -acre flight deck and are approximately 24 stories high from keel to mast top. Newport News Shipbuilding constructed all three of the Nimitz Class carriers currently in the Fleet. A fourth ship of the class, the Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), is scheduled for delivery to the Navy later this year.
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