A fire aboard the U.S. guided-missile cruiser Hue City on Monday night spread to two decks and forced the ship to go to general quarters before the blaze was brought under control, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.
The cause of the fire had not yet been determined and there were no immediate reports of injuries in the incident that occurred as the ship was in the Atlantic north of Bermuda enroute to the Mediterranean, the officials said.
The damage to the Hue City was still being assessed. The Hue City departed Mayport, Fla., on Friday for deployment. The Navy said Tuesday night that the cruiser was returning to Mayport with the USS Gettysburg and should arrive Friday morning.
"We think there's going to be some significant damage, we just don't know the extent of it yet," a Navy official said. The Hue City was still underway on its own power but not making its normal operational speed, the official said.
The initial reports from the Hue City indicated that the fire may have started in a gas turbine generator and spread to the first and third decks of the Ticonderoga-class cruiser, the Pentagon officials said.
The Hue City was commissioned in 1991 and carries the Aegis anti-missile system that the U.S. has promoted for missile defense in Eastern Europe.
The cruiser, the only Navy ship named for a Vietnam battle, was believed to be on a list of cruisers that the Navy had wanted to retire, but Congress blocked the plan.
In February, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that 11 cruisers yet to be identified would be "laid up" for modernization and then returned to the fleet.
"This approach enables us over the long-term to sustain and modernize our fleet of cruisers," he said.
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