The nation’s aircraft carrier force is proving its ability to weather sequestration and continuing resolutions with the award of $2.6 billion cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for the refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS CVN-72 Abraham Lincoln at the Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) unit of Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII).

The ship arrived at Newport News during the last week of March using planning contract funding. Lincoln was originally scheduled to arrive at the shipyard Feb. 14 but was among the projects delayed due to uncertainties surrounding the defense budget. President Obama signed legislation near the end of March enabling the Navy and NNS to move the Lincoln to the shipyard to begin the RCOH.

“Our focus will continue to be on the task at hand: modernizing and improving upon Lincoln’s capabilities for another 25 years of successful service,” says Chris Miner, Newport News vice president for in-service aircraft carrier programs. “We have worked closely with our Navy partners throughout the budget process and have made good progress getting starting on the planned work during the extended period at Naval Station Norfolk. Now that the ship is in dry dock the shipbuilder-Navy team is eager to finish what we’ve started here at Newport News Shipbuilding.”

The RCOH represents 35% of all maintenance and modernization in an aircraft carrier’s 50-year service life. Lincoln’s RCOH will include the refueling of the ship’s reactors, as well as extensive modernization work to more than 2,300 compartments, 600 tanks and hundreds of systems.

In addition, major upgrades will be made to the flight deck, catapults, combat systems and the island. Work is expected to begin immediately and continue through November 2016. After RCOH, Lincoln will be one of the most modern and technologically advanced Nimitz-class aircraft carriers in the fleet.

The Lincoln is the fifth ship of the Nimitz class to undergo this major life-cycle milestone, which will be the ship’s one and only RCOH. More than 3,800 NNS employees will work aboard the carrier during peak periods of the project.