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Repaired Aircraft Carrier leaves San Diego

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

 

The nuclear powered aircraft carrier the USS George Washington left San Diego Bay yesterday for Japan. The carrier will replace the USS Kitty Hawk which is scheduled to be decommissioned. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.

 

The USS George Washington is not one of the two aircraft carriers home ported in San Diego. She was here for three months for repairs to damage caused by a fire that broke out onboard when she was on her way to Japan in May.

 

An investigation revealed the fire was started by smoking in an unauthorized area on a lower deck. The flames were spread by improperly stored flammable liquids, and burned up through dozens of compartments on the ship. More than thirty sailors were injured.

 

The commanding officer, Captain David Dykhoff, and the executive officer were relieved of duty.

 

For the last three months, crews at North Island have been replacing miles of bundled electrical wiring, at a cost of $70 million.

 

In Japan, the USS George Washington will take the place of the USS Kitty Hawk ,which is 48 years old and scheduled to be  decomissioned.  Navy officials say the operational life of an aircraft carrier is about 50 years.

 

The George Washington will be the only U.S. carrier permanently home ported outside the United States. She has a crew of 5, 500  aboard.

 

Alison St John, KPBS news.

 

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