LCS Montgomery Sustains Second Hull Crack in a Month

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

A littoral combat ship commissioned in September has sustained a second hull crack within a month -- this time while passing through the Panama Canal.

The damage occurred Oct. 29, when the USS Montgomery, one of the Independence-class trimaran-variant ships made by Austal, was moving south through the Gatun and Pedro Miguel locks of the canal en route to its new San Diego homeport, 3rd Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Ryan Perry said. USNI News first reported the incident.

"Under control of the local Panama Canal Pilot, the ship impacted the center lock wall and sustained an 18-inch-long crack between her port quarter and transom plates," Perry said in a statement. "The crack is located 8-10 feet above the waterline and poses no water intrusion or stability risk."

The ship continued its transit, he said, and has now completed passage through the Panama Canal. It will arrive in San Diego later this month.

The Montgomery, which was commissioned Sept. 10, received a minor hull crack Oct. 4 after apparently colliding with a tugboat after being told to sortie from Naval Station Mayport, Florida, ahead of Hurricane Matthew's landfall. The damage resulted in a minor leak, according to Naval Surface Force Pacific officials, but the crew was able to contain the seawater intrusion.

And just three days after commissioning, the Montgomery sustained a pair of unrelated engineering casualties within 24 hours, first with a seawater leak in the hydraulic cooling system, then with damage to one of the gas turbine engines.

The ship, which had been en route to San Diego, was redirected to Mayport for repairs.

It's not clear what the total extent of the damage is for all four mishaps or what caused the two earliest casualties.

The Montgomery is one of five littoral combat ships that have sustained damage or engineering casualties out of eight total that have been delivered to the Navy. In response to this rash of casualties, Navy officials in September conducted an engineering stand-down and retraining for all littoral combat ship crews and launched a comprehensive review of engineering practices.

The results of that review have yet to be made public.

Navy officials also announced that the first four LCS would be taken out of the deployment rotation and made test ships to facilitate development of the program. This does not affect the Montgomery, however, as the ship is the fourth Independence-class variant and the eighth LCS overall.

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

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