USS Port Royal Hard Aground
USS Port Royal (CG 73), the last of the Ticonderoga-class cruisers, is hard aground off the coast of Honolulu in 17-22 feet of water; the ship's normal draft is 33 feet. The first attempt to refloat her failed, so they're removing weight (people and fuel) in an attempt to get her off the bottom so they can pull her off the reef. There's much more analysis over at the USNI blog; that's probably a good link for updated information and knowledgeable discussion. One thing they noted is that this is the CO's first underway with his new command; he was last at sea in command on a frigate in 2004. Between his commands, he served as Reactor Officer on USS George Washington (CVN 73). The ship just came out of an overhaul, and this was reportedly her first underway since at least October.
So what do you think? Will this cause a lot of people to come out and say that surface nukes should stick to nuclear power and not try to command ships? (Answer: Of course it will. I don't think they're right, however. Surface nukes are, I'm sure, no worse at shipdriving than the normal skimmer officer. It's the Navigation team that I'm wondering about.)
Based on initial reports this whole episode sounds like it should have been really, really avoidable. I'm hoping that SURFPAC will take a really hard look at what they're doing to keep skimmer Nav Teams proficient during overhauls.
Update 0519 09 Feb: Here's the latest update; she's still hard aground.
Update 0527 10 Feb: The ship got freed yesterday by several tugs after they removed about 600 tons of fuel and anchors; the CO was relieved soon thereafter.
Update 1141 11 Feb: Lots of really good comments on this thread. Here's the latest from the Navy, after the Port Royal made it back into port.