Norfolk, Va. — After 28-years in the fleet, the guided-missile cruiser Hué City arrived at Naval Station Norfolk today to begin her stint in the Navy’s Cruiser Modernization program after a three-day tow from Naval Station Mayport, Fla.
The ship arrived in the Chesapeake Bay in late morning on Oct. 6, towed by the offshore supply ship Gary Chouest. She was met in the Chesapeake by the Norfolk-based tugs Karen and Tracy Moran and that team guided the ship through the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel and into the Elizabeth River.
The ship officially became the seventh Ticonderoga-class cruiser to enter the service life extension program on Sept. 30.
Administratively, the ship has temporarily shifted its homeport to Norfolk for the series of overhauls required in the upgrade. In addition, operational control of the vessel is now with the Navy Sea Systems Command, making it easier for the ship to “undergo extensive modernization” to not only extend its service life, but to also significantly upgrade its “Air Defense Commander capabilities,” according to an Oct. 4 Naval Sea Systems Command press release.
During the overhaul and modernization, Hué City is slated to “undergo extensive structural, mechanical, and combat systems upgrades.” The release didn’t say bow long the modernization period would be, but promised a “return to the fleet at peak technical readiness, fully equipped for the sailors who will take her into harm’s way.”
The overhaul is designed keep the ship operating in the fleet “through the 2030s” the release said.
“The induction of Hué City is a major milestone for the CG Mod program,” said Capt. Kevin Byrne, NAVSEA’s program manager for surface ship modernization.
“Her upcoming overhaul will not only extend the life of this critical capability, but will help the Navy on its mission to grow the fleet and expand our warfighting advantage.”
The modernization begins, the release detailed, with two small maintenance availabilities that will remove equipment tagged for replacement as well as doing structural repairs. Those periods “lay the foundation” for the ship to to be put back together with “new and upgraded systems during a longer dry-docking availability.”
The release did not say where the dry-docking would take place
“This was a tremendous effort between ship’s force, maintenance team, and other stakeholders,” said Lt. Cmdr. Ethan Reber, Hué City’s commanding officer. “From the beginning, lessons learned from ships inducted earlier in the process – Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and Anzio – were incorporated effectively into our planning. Our crew is ready to get started and work alongside the maintenance teams to deliver on her next milestone.”
While waiting for the overhaul, the ship hasn’t been idle, either, operating regularly up and down the Atlantic seaboard for the last two years.
The ship last returned from overseas deployment Aug. 21, 2017, but in the past year has steamed off Canada for anti-submarine warfare exercises with Canadian Forces and the French Navy. In January, Hue City played an opposing forces role against the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln as part of that ship’s pre-deployment Composite Unit Training Exercise.
The ship made port visits to Ft. Lauderdale in April for the 29th Annual Broward Navy Days and in New York for its Fleet Week celebrations in May. Since then Hue City has been tied up in Mayport, preparing for the overhaul and the three-day tow to Norfolk.