Go Inside The Navy's Newest Fighting Ship, The USS Tulsa
SAN FRANCISCO, California - The USS Tulsa is now in its home port in San Diego after a commissioning ceremony in San Francisco.
I got to be at that commissioning ceremony and even better photojournalist Chris Newsome and I got a behind the scenes tour of the ship.
The USS Tulsa is the 15th ship of its kind to enter the naval fleet. It's fast.
It is stealthy and it is powerful.
"It's like the sports car of the Navy. Nice, new, sleek, fast, ready for anything," said Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Weston McCoy, who’s a Kansas native.
Our tour begins in the ships belly.
"Sixty percent of our volume is reconfigurable, to be able to achieve a multitude of missions," said Commander Drew Borovies.
The open space can be reconfigured for a new mission in only 96 hours. Commander Drew Borovies is our tour guide.
"Watch your step again, we've got knee knockers at every door."
Borovies leads us through a workout area, shows off the larger than expected, four-to-a-room bunkroom, and then the ship’s galley, called the Route 66 Diner.
Chief Petty Officer Jon Dyer is from Mangum, Oklahoma, the only Oklahoman on board.
"I'm usually not a sentimental person, but it's a great pride to me," he said.
After 17 years, the USS Tulsa will be his last ship before he retires.
“I get to serve aboard a ship named after my home state, my family is enjoying it, I'm enjoying it. It's a farewell tour," Dyer said.
Dyer is one of 70 officers and crew. Weston McCoy is the sailor who compared the USS Tulsa to a sports car.
"We're able to get into more ports, we're also able to get up to speed a lot faster and everything because we're so light."
With a navigational draft of only 15 feet, the USS Tulsa can operate in shallow water.
“We're designed to get in close, closer than other combatants, and specialize in the mission and we can do it fast," said Commander Borovies.
We get a look at the flight deck of the ship, with room for two helicopters.
But the most impressive part of the tour is the bridge. The ship is one of the most technologically advanced in the world, with sophisticated radar systems, and it's easy to maneuver,
"We can turn on a dime. Most ships can't do that," Dyer said.
It's armed with 24 radar guided hellfire missiles, like these fired from a similar ship.
It has plenty of fire power, including a number of 50 caliber machine guns, Tulsa's engines enable it to hit speeds topping 50 miles per hour.
The USS Tulsa steers with giant water jets, think of it as how a jet ski operates, but the USS Tulsa is 32-hundred tons.
The ship does not have a traditional rudder or propeller, operating more like a giant catamaran.
“We can spin in one spot, that's how maneuverable this ship is."
That agility makes the ship perfect for coastal threats like submarines and even pirates, but it will begin its service as an anti-mine ship.
"I know this is going to be a ship that both the city of Tulsa can be proud to be associated with, and I can tell you we're proud to be associated with the city of Tulsa," said Commander Borovies.
The Navy plans to eventually have 35 ships just like the USS Tulsa. Right now, the USS Tulsa is likely getting equipment upgrades and testing, and the crew will get more training before any deployment is scheduled.