Removing paint from bulkhead
Aviation Electrician’s Mate Airman Recruit Chandler Tarpley, from Oklahoma City removes paint from a bulkhead using a needle gun in the hangar bay of the USS Abraham Lincoln. Navy photo

The Navy announced Friday that the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln successfully completed a six-month maintenance period while moored at Naval Air Station North Island.

During what the Navy calls a planned incremental availability, the maintenance team provided over 2.6 million man-hours overhauling spaces and equipment from the top of the mast to the keel of the ship.

The focus was on updating multiple systems, improving structural integrity and rehabilitating living quarters for the crew, including upgrades to more than 800 lockers and beds.

The COVID-19 pandemic added an extra layer of complexity for sailors and contractors assigned to this project. They had to work on an already difficult task while following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Department of Defense health guidance while staying on schedule.

“We expect these ships to last 50 years,” said Capt. Walter Slaughter, commanding officer of Abraham Lincoln. “I couldn’t be prouder of this entire team.”

“This is a hard business under normal circumstances,” he added. “It’s even harder under the umbrella of a worldwide pandemic.”

The work was an all-hands collaboration between the ship’s crew, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility workers, and multiple civilian contractors.

“Every ship in the life cycle needs time to recuperate after a long deployment,” said Lt. Cmdr. Al Ruiz, the Abraham Lincoln’s maintenance manager. “We were meticulous in the planning of this PIA in order to fully maximize the time and resources to accomplish as much work as possible.”

The carrier’s next deployment has not yet been announced.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.