Six of the eleven American aircraft carriers, all of them assigned to port in Norfolk on the US East Coast, are currently non-functional and undergoing either repairs or maintenance, some of which may last for around two years, the media outlet Breaking Defence reported, citing data obtained from the US Navy.
It was reportedly expected that at least one of the East Coast carriers would be functional, but the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) was forced to abandon its mission in September 2019 due to issues with its electric grid and return to Norfolk for repairs. Various sources gave conflicting assessments of how this impacted processes at the port in interviews with the media outlet.
Some of them shared that in order to fix the USS Truman in the shortest time possible, people were reassigned from other tasks and some of the components needed for the repairs were ripped from other carriers stationed in Norfolk. This, in turn, reportedly impacted the schedule for their return to operation. Other sources, including a Navy spokesperson, stated that no delays to the repairs of the remaining five carriers are expected as a result of the USS Truman's arrival.
Most of these five carriers are undergoing various types of maintenance. The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and USS John C. Stennis are undergoing an optimised fleet response plan (OFRP), although due to the USS Truman being temporarily out of service, the USS Stennis will reportedly have to return to operations without undergoing refuelling and complex overhaul (RCOH). The USS George Washington is also set to undergo RCOH until late 2021, while the USS George H.W. Bush is undergoing a 28-month overhaul scheduled to be completed by the beginning of 2020.
The USS Gerald R. Ford, in turn, is being remodelled to have electromagnetic weapons installed on it, but work on it is already falling behind, with the deadline initially having been set for 2018, as a majority of the elevators for the modern guns wound up not being functional.
The overlapping repairs, maintenances, and overhauls of the carriers have apparently left another vessel of this type, the USS Abraham Lincoln, stationed in the Persian Gulf region longer than intended, as it was supposed to leave the region after a six-month-long deployment. The US claims that the carrier and its strike group have been ensuring the security of navigation through the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, but this was criticised by Iran, which argues that local forces are more than capable of ensuring this themselves.
The deployment came as part of a US-led maritime coalition that Washington formed – inviting other countries to join – in the wake of attacks on oil tankers in the region in May and June 2019. Few states, however, joined the initiative, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE being the only regional forces to accept the US offer.