USS Nimitz won’t return to Everett in 2016

EVERETT — The USS Nimitz will not be returning to Naval Station Everett in 2016, as originally planned.

The aircraft carrier was moved to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton in January for 16 months of large-scale maintenance and upgrades.

Now it will remain there through its next maintenance cycle. The Nimitz is now scheduled to return to Everett in 2019.

The decision was made to reduce the number of disruptions the crew and their families would experience.

The carrier, with a crew of 3,100 sailors and officers, already had undergone three changes of base in the previous five years, Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins said. It moved from San Diego to Bremerton in 2010, then to Everett in early 2012, and back to Bremerton in 2015.

Frequent moves can be hard on sailors and their families, Hawkins said.

“Sailors can now continue to focus on training and getting the ship ready for future missions without the added stress of relocating themselves and their families,” Capt. John Ring, the Nimitz’s commanding officer, said in a statement.

Once the ship’s maintenance work is done, the Nimitz, which is the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 11, would likely be sent out on another long-term overseas deployment, he said.

Then, in 2018, the carrier is scheduled for yet more maintenance work at the shipyard in Bremerton.

Rather than send the carrier to Everett for a short period of time, the Navy determined that it was easier on sailors and their families to just keep the ship in Bremerton until its upgrades are complete.

“Naturally, we are disappointed that the USS Nimitz will not be returning to Everett in June,” Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson said in a statement. “However, we understand and support the Navy’s response to the carrier’s long-term maintenance needs.”

The Nimitz’s departure coincided with a number of changes at Naval Station Everett.

The Navy has now decommissioned its last Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates, three of which had been stationed here.

The Ford was decommissioned in 2013, the Ingraham in November 2014 and the Rodney M. Davis on Jan. 23.

The Ingraham and Ford were towed to Bremerton to be dismantled. The Davis, along with other ships of its class, is scheduled for sale to a foreign navy.

Replacing the frigates in Everett will be three Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers, which the Navy announced would arrive in Everett in 2016.

The USS Gridley, USS Sampson and USS Kidd would join the destroyers USS Momsen and USS Shoup in Everett. Each of the ships has a complement of about 300 crew each.

The Nimitz first arrived in Everett in March 2012, replacing the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.

The Lincoln left Everett in December 2011 for long-term refueling and maintenance at the shipyards at Newport News, Virginia. The Navy has not made any announcements about the carrier’s future.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

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