Freedom on the ropes with bad diesel
And the hits keep coming on the Navy’s LCS program!
In the past several months there have been a number of high-profile incidents that left brand new Freedom-class littoral combat ships limping into port for extensive repair. Last December, USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) was sidelined for weeks to repair an engine casualty that occurred during an Atlantic Ocean transit that left her in need of a tow to Little Creek. Prior to that USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) was left tied to her pier in Singapore for seven months until new bearings could be installed in her combining gear.
Now, it’s Freedom‘s turn.
From the Navy’s presser:
USS Freedom (LCS 1) experienced a casualty to one of the ship’s main propulsion diesel engines (MPDE) on July 11 caused by a leak from the attached seawater pump mechanical seal that resulted in seawater entering the engine lube oil system.
The crew took action to address the leak, and Freedom returned to homeport July 13 on her own power to conduct repairs on a separate, unrelated issue. While in port, the crew performed seawater contamination procedures. From July 19-28, the ship returned to sea to complete its portion of the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise using gas turbine engines rather than its MPDEs.
Upon returning to port, Southwest Regional Maintenance Center’s Diesel Engine Inspector (SWRMC DEI) conducted a diesel engine inspection of USS Freedom’s #2 MPDE on August 3 and found significant damage to the engine caused by rust and seawater. Based on initial assessments from the inspection, Freedom’s #2 MPDE will need to be removed and rebuilt or replaced. The cost and timeline for the repair of the engine are unknown at this time. An investigation by Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CNSP) is underway to determine the definitive cause of the casualty and examine all relevant elements of training and supervision.
“Given the engineering casualties on USS Freedom and USS Fort Worth, I believe improvements in engineering oversight and training are necessary,” said Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, commander, Naval Surface Forces. “The recently completed LCS Review of manning, design, and training looked at a number of sailor performance and ownership factors, to include crew rotation, size and proficiency. From this work, I believe we will be able to make immediate changes to help reduce chance for future operator error. I am fully committed to ensuring that our ships and the Sailors who man them have the proper tools and training they need to safely and effectively operate these ships.”