The U.S. Navy has canceled a request for proposals for dismantling and recycling the ex-USS Enterprise (CVN-65), saying it needs more time to determine how to conduct the first-ever disposal of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

“The Navy has identified that it requires more information to determine the approach for the disposal of CVN-65, including the reactor plants, that is more technically executable, environmentally responsible and is an effective utilization of Navy resources,” Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) said in a statement Feb. 27. “No decision on a preferred approach has been made to this point.”

The Gerald R. Ford following its launch in November. Photo: Huntington Ingalls Industries
The Gerald R. Ford following its launch. Photo: Huntington Ingalls Industries

The Navy published the RFP in August but is still reviewing its options, including whether to do some of the disposal work in-house or have industry handle the entire project. The Navy could also place the ship in “intermediate-term storage for a limited number of years” and defer a disposal path decision “for a later date,” NAVSEA said.

The Navy plans to launch an environmental impact study to evaluate the potential approaches. Other aspects under consideration include executability, cost and regulatory considerations.

Work to inactivate the ship, including removal of fuel form the ship’s eight reactors, is taking place at Huntington Ingalls Industries [HII] Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia and is due to be completed in August. The ship will be placed in temporary storage, at a location that has not yet been identified, until a recycling approach is determined.

The Enterprise, the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, served the Navy for over half a century and was decommissioned during a Feb. 3 ceremony in its hangar bay. It is slated to be replaced by the first Ford-class carrier (CVN-78), which is expected to begin sea trials in March and be delivered to the Navy in April.