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Crackup: US Navy Littoral Combat Ship Suffers Cracked Hull

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Crackup: US Navy Littoral Combat Ship Suffers Cracked Hull

The U.S. Navy’s newest warships do not seem to be able to catch a break.

Crackup: US Navy Littoral Combat Ship Suffers Cracked Hull
Credit: US Navy

After suffering an engineering casualty en route from Mobile, Alabama to her homeport in San Diego California in September, the Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) USS Montgomery was again put out of action after it cracked its hull as a result of a collision with a tug as it sortied from Mayport, Florida last week, the Navy Times reports.

“As the ship was departing the [Mayport] basin, pilot requested tugs come along the starboard side to push Montgomery further from the quay wall and the aft landed hard on the starboard side,” a U.S. Navy report obtained by Navy Times reads.  The accident occurred when the ship was sortied from Mayport ahead of Hurricane Matthew on October 4.

The collision with the tug resulted in a foot-long crack in the ship’s hull along a weld seam. About a gallon of water was entering the hull through the crack every three minutes until sailors managed to plug the leak with wedges. The ship did not have to return immediately to port for additional repairs. An investigation is currently underway to determine the cause of the leak.

“USS Montgomery (LCS 8) sustained a crack to its hull while getting underway from Naval Station Mayport under orders to sortie Oct. 4,” a U.S. Navy statement reads. “This crack resulted in minor seawater intrusion, but was contained by the crew. An investigation into possible causes is underway, and the ship will receive more permanent repairs upon her return to port.”

 The USS Montgomery suffered two unrelated casualties–a seawater leak in the hydraulic cooling system and a casualty to one of its gas turbine engineswithin a 24-hour period in September. Since their first introduction, the U.S. Navy’s fleet of LCSs has been plagued by repeated accidents.

As I reported previously, the Independence-class LCS USS Coronado sustained an engineering casualty while transiting from Hawaii to Singapore in August (See:“Dropping Like Flies: Third US Navy Littoral Combat Ship Out of Action”). In addition, I summarized:

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.

Despite a temporary delay due to the engineering casualty, the LCS USS Coronado has started its rotational forward deployment to the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet area of operations last week.