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Maintenance on USS California sub completed in record time

The Virginia-class submarine USS California left the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, this week after a planned maintenance period accomplished in a record-setting time frame. Photo by Jim Cleveland/U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command
The Virginia-class submarine USS California left the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, this week after a planned maintenance period accomplished in a record-setting time frame. Photo by Jim Cleveland/U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command

June 16 (UPI) -- The submarine USS California returned to the fleet this week after the fastest maintenance of its kind, the U.S. Navy announced on Wednesday.

The Virginia-class nuclear-powered vessel was commissioned in 2011, and underwent its extended docking selected restricted availability, according to a press release.

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The SRA work, completed at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, included routine dry dock work, tank blasting and coating, hull preservation, propulsion and ship system repairs and enhancements to various hull, mechanical and electrical systems.

The submarine was delivered to the shipyard in May 2019.

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"It is a monumental accomplishment to return California to the seas, combat-ready and modernized, to support our national security despite the once-in-a-century obstacles brought forth by COVID-19," Shipyard Commander Capt. David Ettich said in a press release.

"Our people took ownership to weather the storm and delivered on our commitment to support America's Navy," Ettich said.

The submarine, 377 feet long with a crew of 15 officers and 115 enlisted personnel, was designed to dive to depths greater than 800 feet.

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It also features the first electromagnetic signature reduction system in its class, decreasing its profile on enemy radar and other detection systems, and a nuclear reactor that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship.

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The quick turnaround of the submarine's maintenance comes as the U.S. Congress and the Government Accountability Office have criticized the Navy's shipyards for slow delivery.

Between 2015 and 2019, 38 of the 51 maintenance periods for aircraft carriers and submarines at the four publicly-owned naval shipyards were completed late, and only five of 33 submarine maintenance projects were completed on schedule.

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