Repairs Complete, LCS Fort Worth to Return to San Diego

The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) transits in formation with ships from the Royal Malaysian Navy. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joe Bishop)
The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) transits in formation with ships from the Royal Malaysian Navy. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joe Bishop)

After eight months in port at Singapore's Changi Naval Base, the USS Fort Worth is finally headed back to its homeport in San Diego.

Officials with the Navy's Task Force 73 announced the littoral combat ship departed Singapore yesterday following repairs to three bearings in the combining gears damaged Jan. 12 in an incident that sidelined the ship.

The damage was caused by a failure to properly apply lubrication oil to the combining gears during the startup of the main propulsion diesel engines, Navy officials have said.

It was a costly error with serious consequences: In March, Fort Worth commanding officer Cmdr. Michael Atwell was removed from his post in connection with the incident.

CNN reported in April that repairs to the Fort Worth had been estimated to cost the Navy $23 million. A spokesman for U.S. Pacific Fleet, Lt. Clint Ramsden, told that actual damage to the ship proved to be less serious than originally estimated, however. Ramsden declined to confirm the accuracy of CNN's report, but said the final cost of repairs fell far below that figure.

"We later determined that the damage was far more localized," Ramsden said. "It was a win: Once we started the repair process and started getting into the finer details of the assessment, we saw [the damage was] localized to three bearings in the combining gear. Those were able to be quickly, efficiently replaced at a significant cost savings to the Navy."

After Navy personnel determined a course of action and ordered the repair parts, which were manufactured in the United States and shipped to Singapore, the repairs themselves took a matter of weeks, Ramsden said.

The Fort Worth then had to complete standard workups and pre-underway checks and assessments before departing for home, he said.

Upon arrival in San Diego, the Fort Worth will enter a scheduled shipyard maintenance availability for routine upkeep. But Ramsden emphasized that the repair work conducted in Singapore is expected to fix the combining gear damage for good.

"This is the long-term fix," he said. "That's one less repair that will have to be conducted."

In a statement, the current commander of the Fort Worth, Cmdr. Michael Brasseur, praised the work of the crew and Navy personnel who worked to repair the ship.

"I'm very proud of the entire team and our efforts over the past few months as we have worked to get Fort Worth back on-line," Brasseur said. "It's been a lot of hard work, but our team has performed beyond expectations and we are excited to get this ship back to sea, and ultimately return home to San Diego."

Ramsden said the crew that took the Fort Worth into Singapore, LCS Crew 101, had rotated out on schedule in the spring. LCS Crew 111 will take the ship back to port.

Officials said the Fort Worth will make use of both main propulsion diesel engines during the transit to San Diego, allowing the ship to make the journey with fewer underway refueling operations.

The results of the Navy's investigation into the error that caused the damage have yet to be made public. That investigation is still awaiting final endorsement, Ramsden said.

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

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