In theory, such a process could simply involve just refueling or just a review, but in practice, nuclear refueling is always combined with a review. An ROH usually takes one to two years for submarines and up to almost three years for an aircraft carrier, made in a naval shipyard. The refueling of the USS George Washington coincides with a ship overhaul that could take up to four years. Along with refueling, it will prove to be a multi-million dollar exercise.
Refueling and complex overhaul, known as RCOH, is performed only once for each nuclear aircraft carrier, refueling the ship's nuclear reactors and overhauling almost every other system. The reactors aboard the George Washington contain enough nuclear fuel to fully power the ship and all its needs on board for approximately 20 years. Refueling the USS George Washington is a very costly task because the aircraft carrier is powered by two A4W nuclear reactors. The work, which would replace the nuclear fuel that powers the aircraft carrier's reactors, has been delayed by more than a year.
The USS George Washington, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier launched in 1990, is in port for mid-life refueling. While the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is expected to serve for half a century, it requires a mid-life refueling to exchange worn reactor fuel rods.