April 13 (UPI) -- The crew of USS Vella Gulf found significant debris in the guided-missile cruiser's main reduction gear, extending repairs on the vessel.
The cruiser is stationed at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., and the crew has been kept aboard to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"Throughout this delay in deployment, leadership has been keenly aware of all repair efforts, as well as the health and welfare of the crew. The ship remains in a deployed status and is maintaining a COVID-free bubble while repairs are ongoing," Lt. Marycate Walsh, of the 2nd Fleet, told USNI.
The Vella Gulf is part of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group and deployed to the Atlantic Ocean on Feb. 19, but left the convoy near the Canary Islands on Feb. 26 due to a fuel oil leak later blamed on corrosion.
The Ticonderoga-class vessel set sail again on March 13, but returned home the following day for repairs to the same oil tank.
More recently, pre-underway checks found debris in a main reduction gear lube oil strainer, WTKR reported.
This is the second deployment in less than a year for the Vella Gulf, which returned to Norfolk along with the Eisenhower in August 2020 and which entered service in 1993.
Contractors will flush the ship's entire lubrication oil system, Capt. Michael Desmond told crew members in a broadcast obtained by The Daily Press.
Walsh told reporters that leaders are focusing on the crew's morale, allowing civilian clothes after hours, organizing fitness and social events on the pier and allowing care package dropoff days for families.