The People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and People’s Liberation Armed Forces (PLAF) attacked the South Vietnamese port of Hué during the Tet lunar holiday, commonly known as the Tet offensive, from 31 January-27 February 1968. They considered Hué a weak link in the allied chain of garrisons along the coast, and made the city one of the three focal points of their offensive. American and South Vietnamese troops, including Task Force X-Ray, built around the 1st and 5th Marines of the 1st Marine Division, drove the enemy from the city during bitter street fighting, but destroyed the city in the process. For additional information see: Surprised at Tet: U.S. Naval Forces in Vietnam; Tet: The Turning Point in Vietnam; U.S. Marines in Vietnam; The 1968 Tet Offensive Battles of Quang Tri City and Hue.
The first ship named Hue City.
(CG-66: displacement 9,600; length 567'; beam 55'; draft 33'; speed 30+ knots; complement 363; armament 2 5-inch, 2 Mk 41 Vertical Launch Systems (VLS) for BGM-109 Tomahawks, RIM-66 SM-2MR Standards, and RUM-139 VL-ASROC Antisubmarine Rockets, 8 RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile canister launchers, 2 Mk 15 Close In Weapon Systems (CIWS), 4 .50 caliber machine guns, and 6 Mk 32 torpedo tubes, aircraft 2 Sikorsky SH-60B Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) Mk III Seahawks; class Ticonderoga)
Hue City (CG-66) was laid down on 20 February 1989 at Pascagoula, Miss., by Ingalls Shipbuilding Division, Litton Industries; launched on 1 June 1990; sponsored by Mrs. JoAnn Cheatham, wife of Lt. Gen. Ernest C. Cheatham Jr., USMC (Ret.), who commanded (as a Lt. Col.) the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines during the Battle of Hué; and commissioned on 14 September 1991, Capt. Thomas I. Eubanks in command.
Madeira-registered general cargo ship Global Island, owned by Teamship, Ltd., and operated by Tradex Pacific of Auckland, New Zealand, sailed from Mombasa, Kenya, on Christmas 2004 for Dubai, United Arab Emirates, which she was scheduled to reach by 17 January 2005. Global Island suffered an engine breakdown off the Somali coast near Ras Afun, and on New Year’s Day issued a distress call, reporting that she was taking in water and had a 20° list, at 010°44ˈN, 46°034ˈE. Her seven crew members later abandoned ship. The Fifth Fleet relayed her distress call to Hue City, sailing in Somali waters during a deployment (20 August 2004-13 February 2005) at 1545 on 2 January, and the ship rushed to the area. An embarked SH-60B Seahawk of Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Light (HSL) 48 Detachment 3, Lt. Cmdr. R. I. Scritchfield, officer-in-charge, determinedly searched and spotted five survivors, five Kenyans and one Tanzanian, adrift in a life raft, about 45 nautical miles off the Somali coast, the following day. The Americans rescued the castaways and continued to search but did not locate the two remaining mariners, Global Island’s Australian Master and a Kenyan crewmember.
A Pakistani dhow issued a distress call but sank in the Gulf of Oman on 13 December 2007. The Omani Coast Guard relayed the vessel’s message to Hue City, which made for the area and rescued the six sailors. The cruiser’s crewmembers provided the survivors medical assistance, food, and water, and subsequently transferred them to Pakistani frigate Babur (D.182).
Iranian-flagged dhow Payam sent a distress call that pirates attacked her in the Gulf of Oman about 45 miles southeast of Muscat, Oman, on 15 August 2012. A Lockheed P-3C Orion flying under Combined Maritime Forces relayed the message to Hue City at 1420, which steamed toward the area. When the cruiser reached Payam she lowered two rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) manned by two hospital corpsmen and the ship’s visit, board, search and seizure team to render assistance. The boarders treated two of the 13 dhow’s crewmembers, six Pakistanis and seven Iranians, for their injuries, and provided four bags of rice, six cans of kidney beans, 70 gallons of water, and 50 gallons of fuel to the seafarers, enabling them to make shore. “Providing assistance to our fellow mariners,” Capt. Daniel B. Uhls, the ship’s commanding officer, explained, “is an essential part of our mission here and this was an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the welfare and safety of those in the region.”
A fire broke out on board Hue City while she crossed the Atlantic to deploy to the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, on 14 April 2014. The crew defeated the blaze without reporting casualties, and the ship came about under her own power and in company with guided missile cruiser Gettysburg (CG-64) returned to Naval Station Mayport, Fla., and completed repairs.
Detailed history under construction.
Mark L. Evans
22 September 2014