One week after the USS Hue City left on deployment, the ship arrived back at Mayport Friday morning after an engine fire Monday night caused significant damage and forced the guided missile cruiser to turn back.
The Hue City was accompanied by the USS Gettsyburg as she returned from deployment as scheduled.
The Hue City was about 200 nautical miles northeast of Bermuda when the fire broke out. More than 330 sailors were aboard, but there were no injuries.
“Fire at sea is the worst nightmare at sea. And it's been known to be, forever. And that's why we diligently and egregiously practice fire drills of all types on the ship and in port,” said Vice Adm. Jim Ameralt, retired U.S. Navy sailor.
A report by the Navy Times said the fire started in the turbine generator, located in main engine room one, and the crew reacted by going to general quarters.
The fire spread from the generator, through the exhaust uptakes and to the first and third decks of the ship. Amerault said this incident confirms the Navy is trained well.
“During an emergency like this, large fire parties, we call them, are pulled together with people from all ranks on the ship. But they train together in these teams on an extremely regular basis. So those teams are absolutely excellent,” said Amerault.
Navy experts said this appears to be among the Navy's most serious shipboard fires in a few years.
The Navy said a special assessment team will be looking at the ship and finding ways to repair what was damaged. The ship will remain in port along with its sailors while the investigation is conducted.
The Hue City was commissioned in 1991. This ship is 567 feet long and 55 feet tall.
Meanwhile, the USS Gettysburg returned home with more than 300 sailors aboard, concluding a nine-month deployment.
Hundreds of family members and friends greeted the sailors as they arrived. There was live music, a lot of cheers and a lot of tears.
While the ship was away, 25 babies were born.
"I don't have words, I really don't," said sailor Christian Maysonet, who met his newborn. "It's just, holding your child and getting to set foot on American soil, it really brings it back. It makes everything worth it. It really does."
"I feel like this is better than the day we got married. That's how excited I am," said Amanda Maysonet, Christian's wife.
"It's a long time coming. I've been waiting to see him over a year now," sailor Benjamin Lewis said of his child.
Brooke Oekerman arrived home to a special gift -- a brand new pickup truck.
"My husband and I have shared a car for quite a while, so," Oekerman said.