Navy Seeks Answers as 2 LCSs Break Down in a Month

Official U.S. Navy file photo of the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3).
Official U.S. Navy file photo of the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3).

The Navy is expected to complete a report on the engine issues that sidelined two littoral combat ships in the span of 30 days, Lockheed Martin's vice president of littoral ship systems said.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's christening of the LCS Sioux City, the 11th LCS overall and the sixth of the Freedom variant built by Lockheed Martin, Joe North told reporters the contracting company was working with the Navy to determine what went wrong with the USS Milwaukee and the USS Fort Worth.

"We have been with the Navy as part of a root cause analysis that's still ongoing, and the Navy's going to get a report on that in the next few weeks," he said. "It will be their decision and their output at the end of that analysis."

The USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) lost propulsion during its trip from the shipyard at Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Wisconsin to its new home port in San Diego, California. It was near the Virginia coast at the time and had to be towed to Little Creek, Virginia, for repairs and analysis. Navy Times, which had a reporter aboard the ship at the time, reported that metal filings in the lube oil filter had caused a loss of pressure in the combining gear. Repairs are expected to continue into this month.

The Fort Worth (LCS-3) was sidelined in Singapore on Jan. 12 due to a casualty to the ship's combing gears because of an apparent failure to follow maintenance protocol, according to Navy officials.

North maintained that the incidents were isolated.

"There's no connection between any of the [LCS-]3 and [LCS-]5 issues," he said. "...With [LCS-]5, it's the first issue we've seen on a new gear. When the Navy is done with their assessment of that, they'll report out on where they stand."

He said no new testing or criteria had been conducted with the Sioux City prior to its delivery and added he didn't expect the testing process to change for future ships.

"The tests we do on these ships is through Navy approval of their test procedures," he said. "They're all tested the same way and delivered to that criteria."

There are six more Freedom-variant ships under contract for construction at the Marinette shipyard. Marinette CEO Jan Allman said that will create a backlog of work for the shipyard until 2021.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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