A guided-missile cruiser that has been sidelined since February for emergency repairs is back underway for a shakedown cruise, the Navy confirmed to USNI News on Wednesday.
USS Vella Gulf (CG-72) departed Naval Station Norfolk, Va., this afternoon as part of a shakedown cruise to test repairs to tanks and the main reduction gear lube oil system.
“Vella Gulf returned to sea today to conduct sea trials following repairs to a recent engineering casualty. Sea trials will test the ship’s system efficiency and ensure proficiency at sea,” U.S. 2nd Fleet spokeswoman Lt. Marycate Walsh told USNI News on Wednesday.
After deploying with the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group on Feb. 19, the cruiser headed back to port on Feb. 26 to repair a leaking fuel tank. During the initial repairs, the crew found a second cracked tank that required immediate repairs. An attempt at heading back to sea to rejoin the strike group in March ended with the cruiser returning to Norfolk when an issue arose with the ship’s shaft seals, two admirals told USNI News. Earlier this month, the service found substantial debris in the lube oil system of the main reduction gear – the complicated gearing mechanism that connects the cruiser’s gas turbines to the drive shafts and the ship’s propellors.
The resulting damage required additional contractor repairs and added about two weeks of repairs.
While in Norfolk, the crew was largely kept aboard the ship to maintain a COVID-19-free “bubble” to allow the ship to quickly return to sea, with limited activities allowed on the pier, USNI News understands.
The Eisenhower CSG is currently operating in U.S. 5th Fleet in the North Arabian Sea. Several destroyers – USS Mahan (DDG-72), USS Mitscher (DDG-57), USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116) and USS Laboon (DDG-58) – are operating with USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69). Guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG-61) is also with the CSG.