By Jack Dorsey, The Virginian-Pilot © July 26, 2005
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BENEATH THE GEORGE WASHINGTON — For those impressed by the view of an aircraft carrier from the top, where the 4½-acre flight deck forms the pinnacle of its design, the view from the bottom is awe-inspiring, too.

Almost like a deep mountain cavern, with smooth metal for its roof, the stern of the ship opens wide to house its propellers, shafts and rudders, then fades away into a narrow passage running forward just three feet off the bottom of the dry dock’s base.

With no more than three inches of space on each side of its hull, nearly all light, is blocked out, leaving the cave like, subterranean chamber resembling the entrance to a coal mine.

In a rare opportunity to see a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier in dry dock, the crew of the Norfolk-based George Washington and Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard showed off the carrier’s freshly painted bottom Monday.

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