After years of struggles with poor build quality, a balky ship's network, design problems and all manner of other demons -- so many symptoms they might've added up to a "curse," if you believed in that sort of thing -- the Navy's amphibious transport USS San Antonio is finally well, reports Bill McMichael in Defense News. He went for a cruise on the San Antonio and heard from the most important source, the ship's crew, that the ship's problems are behind it.
The ship's chief engineer for the past six months says - with conviction - that those mechanical and electrical problems have been fixed.He continues:
"We are excited to be back to the fleet," said Lt. Cmdr. William Pikul. "We are ready to answer the call to go out to whatever the Navy needs, wherever we need to go. ... This ship has come a long way in the last few months. Every bit of the engineering plant has been proven. ... We've maxed out every engine, every shaft rpm, every item that we've got on board. And we're coming back in still on all four engines, still on ship's power, and we're ready to get back underway again next month."
The first set of sea trials, held in late May, validated the diesel engines, testing their ability to power up and operate free of excess vibration. Drive train vibration emerged as an issue - atop the significant lube oil, communications and other systemic problems - last year, when engineers discovered misaligned or non-tightened foundation bolts and an improperly installed main reduction gear.
Despite the ship's many problems, Koprowski said crew morale has remained high. "They have always seen that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, that they will get underway and do their job," he said.Now, if the Navy can get its entire class into this same shape, it will have overcome a major hurdle.
Passing both sets of trials "feels great," said Boatswain's Mate 1st Class (SW) Mike Tucker, assigned to San Antonio for the past two years. "Very good. Yes, sir. Definitely. It's one thing to actually be out here on the water, and being in port behind a desk. It's a good feeling."
"It's been a tough stretch," said Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Michael Hart. "But you know, sailors join the Navy to go out to sea. And the past several weeks of sea trials, I've been able to witness as the crew has come together more and more as a unit. Granted, we're always about self-improvement. We got a long way to go yet. But we are ready to get back into the operational fleet."