No Indication Heavy Seas Caused Navy Cruiser's Fuel Oil Leak, Official Says

The USS Vella Gulf departs following a scheduled visit to Crete.
The Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf departs following a scheduled port visit on the Greek island of Crete. (U.S. Navy/Paul Farley)

The Navy cruiser that sailed back to Virginia when the crew spotted a leak in one of the ship's fuel oil tanks just a week after deploying is being repaired so it can head back to sea.

The guided-missile cruiser Vella Gulf returned to Naval Station Norfolk on Friday. It's now undergoing technical assessments to repair the leak, which is believed to have been caused by tank corrosion, Lt. Marycate Walsh, a spokeswoman for U.S. Second Fleet, said Wednesday.

"Repair timeline is under refinement and upon completion; the ship will resume its mission," she said.

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The fuel oil leak was first reported by the crew when the cruiser was in heavy seas. A Navy official with knowledge of the problem said now that the problem has been assessed, sea-state was not believed to have caused the problem.

"While operating in elevated seas, Vella Gulf was still within established safe limits," the official said. "The ship did deviate on its return home to navigate around more severe weather and avoid worse sea conditions."

The Vella Gulf is assigned to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, which on Feb. 19 set out on its second deployment in a year. Walsh said the Vella Gulf is still considered to be in a deployed status.

That means safety measures will be in place to ensure no members of the crew are exposed to COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, while their ship is repaired.

The cruiser didn't need assistance getting back to Virginia. The rest of the carrier strike group continued its mission when the Vella Gulf turned back. There was no impact to the other ships, Walsh said last week.

A second guided-missile cruiser, the Monterey, remained with the carrier strike group.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

Related: After Springing Fuel Leak in Heavy Seas, Navy Cruiser Heads Back to Norfolk Port

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