Naval Air: Carrier Stranded In The Pacific

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June 27, 2008: The May 22nd fire on the carrier USS George Washington, did more damage than was originally thought. It may be several months before the Washington can replace the USS Kitty Hawk in the western Pacific (with a home port in Japan). This change over was supposed to take place in August.

The fire broke out near a major ventilation conduit in the rear of the carrier. That conduit not only circulated air to compartments below the waterline, but also contained pipes carrying large numbers of electrical and communications cables. These lit up and before the fire was completely put out (it took twelve hours), over 120,000 meters (nearly 400,000 feet) of cables were damaged or destroyed. Over two percent of the ships 3,800 spaces (rooms) were damaged. Some of the spaces suffered severe damage (metal walls melted or seriously weakened), but the most troublesome damage was to the electrical and data cables. Thus the navy is still figuring out exactly when repairs can be completed and the 47 year old Kitty Hawk brought back to the United States for decommissioning. Even with the delay, the navy still expects to decommission the Kitty Hawk in January, 2009, as scheduled.

All this is inconvenient for the families. Those associated with the George Washington were to move to Yokosuka, Japan, while the Kitty Hawk families moved to Bremerton, in Washington State. The George Washington is currently in San Diego, getting repaired.

 


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