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USS Eisenhower back at sea after upgrades in Norfolk

By Allen Cone
The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower departs for sea trial on Thursday from the Naval after 1 1/2 years of upgrades at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia. Photo by Mass Communication Spec. 3rd Class Daniel E. Gheesling/<a class="tpstyle" href="https://www.navy.mil/view_imagex.asp?id=282851&t=1">U.S. Navy</a>
The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower departs for sea trial on Thursday from the Naval after 1 1/2 years of upgrades at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia. Photo by Mass Communication Spec. 3rd Class Daniel E. Gheesling/U.S. Navy

March 29 (UPI) -- The USS Dwight D Eisenhower is back in the Atlantic Ocean after the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier underwent upgrades for a year and a half.

The improvements on the 41-year-old ship, called planned incremental availability, were performed at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia, starting in 2017. The maintenance availability originally was supposed to last about six months, USNI News reported.

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The carrier departed Norfolk on Thursday.

Employees from Norfolk Naval Shipyard are aboard the ship performing sea trials that include small-boat operations, countermeasure washdown systems testing, high-speed turns execution and catapults testing. And sailors are testing their capabilities in damage control, deck seamanship and flight deck operations.

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"I think going out to sea provides a sense of accomplishment," Aviation Electronics Technician Airman Tanner Brown, a member of the aircraft intermediate maintenance department, said in a Navy news release. "We finally get to see not only what we're doing but what everyone on the ship is doing as a whole to get to the end goal and see everything come together."

Once the PIA concludes, the Norfolk will personnel depart the ship.

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"A disciplined and thoughtful approach to the basics brought us here," said Capt. Kyle Higgins, Ike's commanding officer in charge of getting the vessel underway at sea. "We've been training for this for quite some time and invested a tremendous amount of sweat along the way. The hard work every sailor put in over the past year and a half demonstrates we have the grit, knowledge and drive to get this fine warship back to sea where she belongs."

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The Navy then plans to deploy the carrier with Carrier Strike Group 10, which includes the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers USS Monterey, USS San Jacinto and USS Vella Gulf; the ships and staff of Destroyer Squadron 26; and the squadrons and staff of Carrier Air Wing 3.

"It's an exciting time to be a sailor aboard Mighty Ike," Higgins said. "I can feel the energy and enthusiasm as I walk through the ship and talk with our crew. They are motivated and ready to return to sea to prove we are 'greater each day."

Two other East Coast-ported carriers have undergone repairs in the past year.

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Earlier this month, the USS Harry Truman departed Norfolk, Va., after a three-month availability for ship maintenance and targeted training.

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In February, George H.W. Bush arrived at Norfolk Naval Shipyard for a planned 28-month docking planned incremental availability. This is the 10-year-old ship's first DPIA of its lifecycle.

The Eisenhower also underwent maintenance from 2013 to 2015. From 2008 to 2013, it was deployed four times with just one maintenance availability.

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