Surface Forces: Cruiser On The Rocks


February 15, 2009: The USS Port Royal, an American cruiser, ran aground on February 5th, as it returned to its base in Hawaii after the first day of sea trials. The ship slid into a shoal of sand and rock, which was actually construction debris from a nearby air port.  The Port Royal had spent the last four months in a shipyard, getting a normal batch of upgrades and maintenance. The 9,600 ton ship has been in service for 15 years, and is the 27th, and last, Ticonderoga class cruiser to be built.

It took four days to get the cruiser off the shoal, which was done by removing about a thousand tons of weight from the ship. It's not been announced how it hit the shoal, which is marked on charts. The Port Royal draws 33 feet of water, and the shoal is 22 feet under water. The captain of the Port Royal was relieved, which is normal for a grounding such as this.

The only damage mentioned is to the propellers (the tips were torn off), and a leak in one of the sonar domes. There was no hull breach. It is also believed that propeller shaft and shaft bearings will probably have to be replaced as well. Her engines might have been screwed up as well because of this.

So after one day of sea trials, the Port Royal is headed right back to the shipyard and dry dock. There will probably be courts martial for whoever screwed up the navigation that put the ship on a known shoal. Professional mariners don't do that sort of thing in clear weather and calm seas.

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