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Huntington Ingalls wins $2.6 billion U.S. Navy carrier refueling deal

Sailors rest on the catwalk as they wait to refuel a helicopter on board the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) as i
Sailors rest on the catwalk as they wait to refuel a helicopter on board the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) as i

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. on Friday won a $2.6 billion contract to refuel and overhaul the USS Abraham Lincoln, a nuclear-powered Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, the U.S. Navy said.

"Refueling, repairing and modernizing a Nimitz-class carrier gives the Navy a fully mission-ready aircraft carrier ready for two and a half more decades of service on the front line," said Captain Frank Simei, program manager for in-service aircraft carriers.

The contract award was delayed six weeks due to a delay in passage of the fiscal year 2013 defense spending bill. But the Navy said it authorized additional work using other funds to keep the refueling program on schedule.

The Navy moved the carrier from a naval station in Norfolk, Virginia, to the Huntington Ingalls shipyard in Newport News on Thursday.

The Navy said it was making every effort to ensure that the delayed start of the refueling and overhaul work on the Abraham Lincoln did not delay the scheduled drydocking and inactivation of the USS Enterprise carrier, or the refueling and overhaul of the sixth carrier, USS George Washington. All three efforts use the same drydock.

Friday's contract award includes a performance incentive that Huntington Ingalls will earn if it completes work on the Abraham Lincoln before mid-October 2016, and if the cost of the work comes in at or below the target cost, the Navy said. It did not give the exact amount of the possible incentive fee. Work on the ship is due to end in November 2016, and the ship is scheduled to return to the fleet in 2017.

The contract covers refueling of the carrier's nuclear power reactors, repairs and upgrades of the ship's infrastructure, and modernization of the ship's combat and communications systems. The Abraham Lincoln will be the first aircraft carrier to get modifications for the new F-35 fighter jet built by Lockheed Martin Corp.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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