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LCS Montgomery Sustains Hull Crack in Hurricane Surf

The Future USS Montgomery (LCS 8) conducted acceptance trials at sea on May 6, 2016, demonstrating the performance of its propulsion plant, ship handling, and auxiliary systems. Photo by Austal USA
The Future USS Montgomery (LCS 8) conducted acceptance trials at sea on May 6, 2016, demonstrating the performance of its propulsion plant, ship handling, and auxiliary systems. Photo by Austal USA

The littoral combat ship Montgomery is once again in need of repairs after suffering a hull breach in rough waves off Florida.

Lt. Cmdr. Rebecca Haggard, a spokeswoman for Naval Surface Force Pacific, told Military.com the ship sustained a crack to its hull while departing Naval Station Mayport, Florida, under orders to sortie Tuesday ahead of Hurricane Matthew's landfall on the coast.

The mishap is under investigation, but a Navy official said it's strongly suspected that the ship collided with its tugboat.

Ships are often ordered out of port as a precaution ahead of significant storms. Haggard said the Montgomery was not the only ship told to sortie Oct. 4. Ahead of the storm, conditions were already choppy: Naval Station Mayport recorded maximum wind speeds of 28 miles per hour and maximum gusts of 38 miles per hour on Oct. 4.

The crack resulted in a minor leak, but the crew of the LCS contained the seawater intrusion, Haggard said. The damage did not necessitate an immediate return to port.

The mishap, first reported by Navy Times, is the latest in a recent series of incidents involving damage to the Navy's newest class of surface ships, but it's by no means as serious as some other recent problems.

"It's not going to be some multi-million dollar, months-long repair," Haggard said.

The Montgomery is in Mayport for repairs following previous mishaps.Three days after the ship's Sept. 10 commissioning, it suffered two unrelated engine casualties within a 24-hour period.

The ship first experienced a seawater leak in its hydraulic cooling system, apparently due to a faulty seal. Then, later that day, it took a casualty to one of its gas turbine engines, Navy officials said.

The combined damage was enough that the ship abandoned its planned transit to its San Diego homeport and set course instead for Mayport for repairs. As a result of this stint in Mayport, the ship was forced to cancel its much-anticipated appearance at Fleet Week in San Francisco, an event that began Oct. 3.

The Montgomery is the fifth littoral combat ship to sustain engineering problems in a year, a trend that likely provided part of the motivation for the Navy's decision to turn the first four LCSs into test ships and overhaul the program with engineer retraining and a revamped deployment plan.

Fortunately, apart from an engineering casualty that kept the LCS Fort Worth sidelined in Singapore for eight months, most of the damage has been repaired quickly.

In late September, Navy officials announced that the Coronado, sidelined during a Pacific transit in August, had completed repairs to its propulsion system and was en route to Hawaii to complete the remainder of its 16-month deployment in the region.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at@HopeSeck.

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