Monday, May 18, 2009

Carl Vinson Commences Dock Trials

The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) maneuvers away from the pier to turn the ship around to enable operation of the ship's propellers and complete the next phase of the scheduled ship's refueling complex overhaul (RCOH). Carl Vinson is undergoing a scheduled RCOH at Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David Shen/Released)

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erin Oberholtzer, USS Carl Vinson Public Affairs

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Reactor department Mechanical (M) division launched Dock Trials May 4.

The Dock Trials test the main engines and spin the shafts of the propellers as well as test vital communications.

The tests ensure that the main engines are ready for sea trials by using steam to turn the shafts. There are four main engines that run off of steam created in the ship's reactor plants.

"The testing was successful on three out of four engines," said Lt. Luke Sullivan, Reactor department's Chemical Radiological Assistant (CRA). "We're trying to make sure that we have positive control over all our systems."

The tests can be dangerous due to the movement of the ship causing the brow to shift and the ship to vibrate. However, since the aircraft carrier has been tied to the pier with cables, the ship is prevented from moving too much.

"The test is risky because the propellers are developing thrusts," said Lt. Cmdr. Randy Reid, Reactor Departments Reactor Mechanical Assistant (RMA), "but because of extra precautions we've taken the risk is substantially lowered."

The tests enable them to check the power, machines and generators to make sure that they are working properly. The tests are also being used to check the vital communication circuits between the propulsion plant and the bridge.

With the reactors now working, the ship can create steam and sustain itself.

"This is the first time since 2005 that these systems are all active," said Reid. "The ship is now one step closer to being ready for sea."

USS Carl Vinson is completing its scheduled RCOH at Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard. The RCOH is an extensive yard period that all Nimitz-class aircraft carriers go through near the midpoint of their 50-year life cycle.

During RCOH, Carl Vinson's nuclear fuel has been replenished, and the ship's services and infrastructure upgraded to make her the most state-of-the-art aircraft carrier in the fleet and ready for another 25 years or more of service.