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The USS Kitty Hawk was set to steam into Guam for a port visit Tuesday as the aircraft carrier’s scheduled replacement, the USS George Washington, continues to undergo damage assessment.

About 4,800 Kitty Hawk personnel, along with 215 sailors from the USS Vandegrift, will visit Guam with some sailors "volunteering for various community relations projects throughout the island," a Navy release said.

The release called the Kitty Hawk’s visit "routine," though the stop signals a change in course from the carrier’s initial destination of Pearl Harbor, where it was to meet the George Washington for a hull swap this week.

A May 22 fire aboard the George Washington put both of the ships’ schedules in flux.

Instead of swapping hulls with Kitty Hawk, the George Washington lingers at North Island Naval Air Station in Coronado, Calif., while personnel from Naval Sea Systems Command, Commander Naval Air Forces, Norfolk and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Southwest Regional Maintenance Center and the private sector decide what needs to be repaired and what needs to be replaced, according to a preliminary Navy report released Friday.

The report called the damage primarily "electrical" in nature, affecting electrical cabling and components in 80 spaces aboard the ship.

The fire’s source "has not been determined," the report said, but Naval Sea Systems Command officials have said that improperly stored flammable materials might have exacerbated the situation.

Twenty-four George Washington sailors suffered injuries fighting the fire but all are back at work.

Kitty Hawk sailors also will remain at work instead of undergoing the planned "de-manning" process, as the 47-year-old ship was originally on it’s way to its 2009 decommissioning in Bremerton, Wash.

Kitty Hawk intends to "retain full mission capability" until all of the answers are in, according to the ship’s Web site. That means sailors with upcoming transfers and permanent change of station dates have been "put on hold" pending schedule announcements and repairs on the George Washington, the online message said.

"As soon as we have a schedule to put out to crew, we will," the message said, adding that personnel are "working hard to minimize the impact to sailors and their families."

Capt. Todd Zecchin, Kitty Hawk’s commanding officer, said in an online statement that "our future should become somewhat clearer" after the Guam port visit.


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