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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 13, 2009

Port Royal repairs to cost millions

By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

When the USS Port Royal ran aground off Honolulu airport last week, it ended up causing major damage to the 567-foot warship.

ADVERTISER LIBRARY PHOTO | Feb. 8, 2009

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The damaged Navy cruiser USS Port Royal is expected to be moved to a drydock in the shipyard early next week for millions of dollars in repairs after the 567-foot warship ran aground off Honolulu airport and was stuck for 3 1/2 days.

The incident damaged the bow-mounted sonar housing and struts, shafts and propellers. Tips of the blades from the props were sheared off, officials said.

Talk around the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, the state's largest industrial employer, was that there would be lots of overtime.

"First we have to assess the damage to see what work needs to be done," said Agnes T. Tauyan, spokeswoman for Navy Region Hawai'i. "We are methodically integrating it into our normal work schedules."

Navy divers continued to examine the hull after the ship was towed into Pearl Harbor on Monday.

The 9,600-ton ship ran aground last Thursday about 8:30 p.m. in 17 to 22 feet of water about half a mile from the shoreline abutting Honolulu International Airport's reef runway.

Three unsuccessful attempts were made to dislodge the Port Royal. The Navy removed 600 tons of weight including hundreds of tons of seawater ballast, 40 tons' worth of anchors, anchor chains and other equipment, and about 15 tons' worth of sailors and finally lightened the ship enough to pull it backward from its perch around 2:40 a.m. on Monday.

The ship was on its first day of sea trials after a drydocking when it ran aground. Officials said there was no fuel spill, but that 5,000 gallons of raw sewage were released to prevent it from backing up into the ship.

Capt. John Carroll, who commanded the $1 billion guided missile cruiser since October, was temporarily relieved of his duties and was reassigned to the staff of Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, the Navy said.

Port Royal was in drydock from Oct. 15 until Jan. 6 for $18 million in regular maintenance. The hull was repainted, the propellers and hubs were replaced, the rudders were repaired, the shafts refurbished, the sonar dome was repaired and topside structures received work.

The Navy on Wednesday retrieved the last of two anchors and chains dropped to lighten the warship. Capt. Neil R. Parrott, assigned to the staff of Naval Surface Forces in San Diego, is investigating the grounding.

Reach William Cole at wcole@honoluluadvertiser.com.