Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hue City Begins Cruiser Modification

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Jacob Sippel, Navy Public Affairs Support Element East Detachment Southeast

JACKSONVILLE, Fla (NNS) -- The Ticonderoga Class guided-missile cruiser USS Hue City (CG 66) began the process of cruiser modification Sept. 29, to extend the ship's life and enhance combat capability.

Hue City is the second ship at Naval Station Mayport to go through the modification process.

In 2003, the Navy decided to upgrade 22 of the 27 Ticonderoga Class guided-missile cruisers (CG 52 - CG 73), in an effort to keep these ships combat-relevant until a new generation of surface warships can be designed and built. This conversion will extend each ships service life to 35 years. The conversion will also allow the ships to participate in land attack, littoral undersea warfare, force protection and anti-air defense missions; including ballistic missile defense.

Part of the many modifications happening aboard Hue City is an all-electric conversion. This is when the steam-operated equipment is replaced with electric equipment.

"The core of the modification package is to upgrade the engineering plant to an all-electrical configuration by removing the waste heat boiler systems," said Don Doyle, port engineer. "This is a tremendous undertaking for these systems and it extends throughout the ship. The waste heat boilers are very maintenance intensive and a major contributor to just about all the ships internal corrosion issues."

Other equipment affected includes washers and dryers, cooking kettles, dishwashers, fuel oil heaters and potable water heaters.

"The Navy spends millions of dollars of repair money every year fixing problems with our evaporators and other portions of the steam system. Not only does it cost a lot, but the unseen cost is the many man hours the crew uses fixing these steam-related problems," said Lt. Peter Furman, the ship's systems test officer.

Additionally, there are some other improvements being made to Hue City as part of this modification.

"There will be a significant weight reduction to improve ship's stability and to enable growth for the ship's extended service life," said Furman. "In all, the cruiser modification program is critical to sustain surface combatant force structure and will provide a cost effective bridge to the introduction of our future family of ships."

Other alterations include superstructure strengthening and improved main space firefighting capabilities.

This $24 million dollar project will give Hue City critical new war fighting capabilities as combat systems are upgraded, while crew size and maintenance requirements are reduced. The ship will receive the combat systems portion of the cruiser modification in its 2014 availability.

"It's a privilege to be associated with a project of this magnitude," said Furman. "This is a significant period in the ship's life. Ultimately, it will improve the quality of life for Hue City's Sailors."

Capt. Paul Stader, USS Hue City commanding officer, said the crew is ready for the challenges ahead.

"The process of the shipyard environment is very testing and because the ship is out of its element, it can be a challenging period for the crew and leadership," said Stader. "It's been a very productive yard period, but we look forward doing to what we do best, and that's being underway at sea. It has been a great effort between us, Southeast Regional Maintenance Center and the many government contractors. We are ready to wrap this up and get operational."

The mission of USS Hue City is to conduct prompt, sustained combat operations at sea in support of a carrier battle group or amphibious assault group and is designed to defend against coordinated saturation attacks involving enemy surface ships, submarines, aircraft and missiles.