A really big deal.
The emergence of a first-of-its kind F-35C carrier-launched stealth fighter is intended to give the Navy more combat attack flexibility and attack sophisticated enemy air defenses or fortified targets from a sea-based carrier. Such an ability can allow a maneuvering carrier to hold targets at risk from closer proximity if land-bases are far from the combat vicinity.
The 48-month long process, called Refueling Complex Overhaul, is an aircraft carrier mid-life technological boost and refurbishment to include work on the hull, flight-deck, arresting gear, catapults and a rebuilding of the “island house” on the ship, Chris Miner, Vice President, Carrier Program, Huntington Ingalls, told Scout Warrior in an interview.
The process involves upgrading and modernizing the nuclear propulsion plant and replacing valves on all of the generators and turbines. All of the ship’s electrical systems will upgraded to digital including door locks, generators, sensors and computing.
The RCOH also includes the removal of the non-skid coating system from the hangar bay and the 4 ½ acre flight deck. Major components such as the propellers, shafting, arresting gear engines, the island mast and propulsion plant equipment get removed, replaced or reconfigured with advanced technology.
“The arresting gear engines will be removed, shipped to Lakehurst (Navy facility in Lakehurst, N.J.) and refurbished like new. They will be reinstalled into the ship to support another 25 years of service,” Miner added.
The RCOH process involves placing several coats of special corrosion-preventing paint on the hull so that it glides more smoothly through the ocean and is less likely to get attachments such as barnacles stuck on. The ship’s galley areas get refurbished and upgraded with improved comforts for sailors.
“A lot of areas get stripped down to essentially just the steel structure — and get reconstructed as though they were new, such as the catapults,” an HII executive explained.
Overall, RCOH affords an occasion to execute substantial technological upgrades on the ship such as refueling the ship’s reactors and performing extensive modernization work on more than 2,300 compartments, 600 tanks and hundreds of systems, a Huntington Ingalls statement said.