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Groundhog Day: 5th US Navy Littoral Combat Ship Out of Action in a Year

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Groundhog Day: 5th US Navy Littoral Combat Ship Out of Action in a Year

Another week and another Littoral Combat Ship suffers an engineering casualty.

Groundhog Day: 5th US Navy Littoral Combat Ship Out of Action in a Year
Credit: US Navy Photo

On September 13, the Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) USS Montgomery suffered an engineering casualty en route from Mobile, Alabama to her homeport in San Diego California, according to a U.S. Navy statement.

The USS Montgomery experienced two unrelated casualties within a 24-hour period, the US Navy reports. “The first casualty happened when the crew detected a seawater leak in the hydraulic cooling system. Later that day, Montgomery experienced a casualty to one of its gas turbine engines,” according to the press release published by USNI News.

“The built-in redundancy of the ship’s propulsion plant allows these ships to operate with multiple engine configurations. However, with the two casualties resulting in the loss of both port shafts, it was determined that the best course of action would be to send the ship to Mayport to conduct both repairs.”  The USS Montgomery is slated to arrive in Mayport, Florida next week after a brief refueling stop at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

This marks the fifth time that a LCS suffered a major incident within a year. In August, the Independence-class LCS USS Coronado sustained an engineering casualty while transiting from Hawaii to Singapore (See: “Dropping Like Flies: Third US Navy Littoral Combat Ship Out of Action”). Last month, I summarized the LCS’ history of engineering casualties:

The U.S. Navy revealed on August 28 that the lead ship of the Freedom-class LCS variant, the USS Freedom, is sidelined in San Diego after sustaining damage in one of its two main propulsion diesel engines on July 11—most likely due to a crew error.

The Freedom-class LCS USS Forth Worth is at the moment also out of action after suffering damage to its propulsion system caused by a human error in January. The ship is currently in transit from Singapore (where it languished for seven months) to San Diego for major repairs. As a result of the operating error at the beginning of the year, the captain of the USS Fort Worth was relieved of duty. The ship was the second LCS ever to be deployed to the Asia-Pacific region.

Furthermore, in December 2015, the Freedom-class USS Milwaukee sustained a combining gear casualty about 64 kilometers (40 miles) off the Virginia coast during an Atlantic transit.

After the USS Freedom’s engineering casualty, the commander of all U.S. Navy surface forces, Vice Admiral Tom Rowden, “ordered an engineering stand down for every [Littoral Combat Ship] crew to review procedures and standards for their engineering departments,” according to a September 5 statement.

Rowden also said that sailors would undergo additional engineering training. “This training will occur over the next 30 days and will allow the SWOS leadership to review our training program and determine if other changes need to be made to the training pipeline,” according to Rowden.