Ike is back in the fight after nearly two years 23 months in the shipyard.
The carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower got underway Aug. 28, following an extensive dry-docking planned incremental availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. This abbreviated time at sea will put the carrier to the test, as well as the crew — more than 60 percent are underway for the first time. The ship will validate basic surface operations and deck seamanship, as well as run flight deck and damage control drills. As the first flattop to go through implement the Optimized Fleet Response Plan, Ike will begin the basic phase with sea trials off the Virginia coast of Virginia laterthis fall. This will include a full work-up schedule to certify the flight deck and return to underway flight operations. The carrier’s 15th deployment is scheduled for next summer.
Ike was supposed to to come out of the yard in August 2014, but was delayed by shipyard production issues and a unexpected maintenance problems — concentrated 50-percent growth in maintenance (mainly in the propulsion plant — that resulted from back-to-back deployments in 2012 and 2013. June 2012 to December 2012 and February 2013 to July 2013. It has proved to be the largest drydock incremental availability in the history of the four public shipyards.
"We just completed the most extensive DPIA for any CVN, and I promise it was not always easy," Capt. Steve Koehler, Ike's commanding officer, said in a release.
Norfolk Naval Shipyard bore the brunt and contributed more than 685,000 of the 1.2 million man-days needed to get Ike repairedand running. The upgrades and repairs are expected to carry the 38-year-old carrier through much of the remainder of her scheduled 50 years of service.
Ike received major propulsion plant modernization and repairs during its time in the yard. More than 100 tanks, voids, and vent plenums were blasted and painted, according to a NNSY release. All shafting and rudders were removed and overhauled, and two sponsons were installed for the Close-In Weapons System. All four catapults were overhauled, and the ship renovated more than 117,000 square feet of spaces that included 25 crew living compartments and 774 racks.
Ike's delay forced Navy officials in October to swap Ike with the carrier Harry S. Truman, which will deploy in the fall, nearly half a year ahead of schedule. Truman in November entered a condensed incremental availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, the first performed there, to accommodate the switch.
Providing a combat-ready ship was only half the challenge. Ike’s command triad also spent the past two years building a combat-ready crew. During that time, the ship earned the 2013 Commander, Naval Air Forces, Atlantic Yellow "E" Award; the 2013 and 2014 Ramage Awards; the 2014 Retention Excellence Award; consecutive "Blue M" awards; and two consecutive CNO Health Promotion and Wellness "Blue H" awards with Gold Stars.
"I never cease to be impressed by the incredible dedication and pride every crew member has demonstrated with the hard work they all put in day in and day out," Koehler said. "We're at sea today because of them."