Naval Air: De Gaulle Put Right?


December 9,2008: The French nuclear aircraft carrier (CVN) Charles de Gaulle has completed a fifteen month, half billion dollar, refurbishment. All CVNs undergo this, usually timed to coincide with when it is necessary to replenish the nuclear power plant (in this case with 64 new fuel rods). The de Gaulle took eleven years to build (1988-99) and was not ready for service until late 2000. It was downhill after that, with a long list of problems. The recently completed refurbishment was meant to address the most serious problems. It will be a year or so before it is clear if the de Gaulle is really good to go.

The refrub work required 2.5 million man hours (about half of supplied by the crew and navy technicians) from 1,700 workers. The worked involved stripping old paint and applying 11,000 square meters (40 tons) of new paint on the hull. The 7,800 meter flight deck was refinished. Over 80,000 meters of electrical cables were installed. Most of the mechanical systems were refurbished, and some were replaced. Electronic systems were upgraded, to include more satellite communications access and improved Internet capability. It's now easier to use VOIP (using the Internet for telephone calls.) The de Gaulle will return to service next year.


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