NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike) (CVN 69) was redelivered to the fleet March 25, after a four-year, approximately $2.5 billion dollar Refueling Complex Overhaul (RCOH) that brought state-of-the-art equipment and technology to one of America's premier fighting platforms.
The RCOH included the reconstruction of the ship's island, the installation of a new antenna mast, the installation of a new radar tower, an upgrade and modernization of combat and communication systems, overhaul of the ship's hull, mechanical and electrical systems, and the refueling of her two nuclear reactors.
"I'm extremely proud of my crew. They have put their hearts and souls into bringing life back into this warship," said Capt. Charles Smith, Ike's commanding officer. "It was truly a team effort, and my crew is excited to be underway. This is the start of Ike's second life in serving our great nation."
One of the great successes of the overhaul was the ability of Ike's Sailors to step up to the plate and augment the work performed by shipyard workers and contractors.
"The crew logged more than 5.9 million man-hours in support of the RCOH," said Lt. Cmdr. Brian Lepine, Ike's maintenance manager. "Ike's crew took on a ship's force work package that, using conservative estimates, was $375 million worth of work. That's money that we, as a crew, saved the American taxpayer."
Though life in the shipyard isn't one seagoing Sailors are used to, the hard work paid off with the ship's return to sea and the successful completion of Sea Trials, marking another milestone for Ike's crew.
"The purpose of Sea Trials was to test the various components that were worked on," said Lt. Cmdr. John Stewart, Ike's Sea Trials coordinator. "We took Ike out and put her through all the processes that are required of her in the defense of freedom."
While Ike's crew operated their warship for the first time at sea following the RCOH, testing went on around the clock. Ike conducted various evolutions, such as high-speed runs and turns, communications system checks, countermeasure wash downs and helicopter operations.
Manned with more than 3,300 Sailors and more than 490 Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard and Naval Sea Systems Command employees and contractors, Ike was the second Nimitz class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to complete an RCOH, following USS Nimitz (CVN 68).
The improvements made on Ike over the last four years have prepared the carrier to serve for another 25 years. Ike's next major milestones are to certify the flight deck and begin to conduct routine carrier operations at sea in preparation to participate in the U.S. Navy's Fleet Response Plan.
For related news, visit the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn69.