USS George Washington ‘ahead of schedule’
July 13, 2008
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Bob Willard hinted Friday that the USS George Washington would be in Yokosuka by the end of September.
At a news conference Friday, Willard said he wanted to have the aircraft carrier in Yokosuka "getting acclimated to her new homeport" a couple of weeks before the International Fleet Review in South Korea in October.
While "exact details have yet to be finalized," the ship’s repair work is "ahead of schedule," Willard said, adding that his goal is to have the ship "back at sea" by the end of August. It will then complete all of the necessary sea trials and certifications before the ship reaches Yokosuka to assume its role as the Forward Deployed Naval Forces carrier.
The ship was originally going to reach Yokosuka in August, but the damage and repair work related to a May 22 fire aboard the George Washington have delayed several events, including the ship’s turnover with the USS Kitty Hawk. The Kitty Hawk, Yokosuka’s former 47-year-old aircraft carrier, was en route to its decommissioning but has taken "GW’s" place in the Rim of the Pacific exercise conducted this month in Hawaiian waters. The delays affect the many sailors and families connected with both ships, especially the families of the Kitty Hawk, which are now trying to move to new duty stations without their sponsors, Willard said Friday.
"Much of the planning … is being driven by regard for these families," Willard said. "There are a lot of moving parts, and we are working this problem full time."
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Willard said Friday, adding that he convened the Manual of the Judge Advocate General investigation and that it would be "unfair to speculate" on the outcome before the report is finished.