A fuel oil leak aboard the Navy warship Vella Gulf is forcing the guided-missile cruiser to return to Norfolk, removing a ship from the strike group of the aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower, which deployed less than a week ago.

The leak in one of the cruiser’s engineering spaces came as the ship was crossing the Atlantic Ocean “in heavy seas,” according to U.S. 2nd Fleet spokeswoman Lt. Marycate Walsh.

“After technical evaluation, it was determined repairs would need to be made in port,” Walsh said in a statement Friday. “The ship remains in a safe condition and does not require assistance, personnel or materials at this time.”

The 27-year-old Vella Gulf was expected back in Norfolk Friday.

“It would be premature to speculate on the extent of damage and length of repairs needed until the ship pulls into port and is examined by engineers,” Walsh said. “This is an ongoing situation and more information will be provided once it becomes available.”

The rest of the strike group remains underway, she said.

Vella Gulf returned to Norfolk with the Ike in August and was escorting the carrier in its second deployment in a year.

Geoff is the editor of Navy Times, but he still loves writing stories. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at geoffz@militarytimes.com.

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