The Navy’s third Littoral Combat Ship is launching a new expeditionary maintenance capability designed to improve the ship’s ability to conduct repairs in transit while on deployment in the Pacific theater, service officials said.
The USS Fort Worth, or LCS 3, has vastly expanded mission ranges and mission duration by using transportable maintenance containers designed to allow for repairs and maintenance work at various forward locations, Capt. Scott Pratt, Program Manager for Fleet Introduction and Sustainment, LCS, told Military.com in an interview.
“We have two 25 foot shipping containers. One of them is equipped with all the parts of a maintenance availability - and the other one is a workshop that has all the tools and equipment to perform the maintenance work,” Pratt said.
The container with the tools contains cables, bolts, pipes and other essential parts for the ship – while the other container functions as a portable workshop, he explained.
The idea of the containers is to allow the ship to travel while still receiving the requisite supplies needed to perform essential sustainment work while on deployment. LCS 3 is now deploying to the same area where LCS 1, the USS Freedom, made the platform’s maiden deployment in 2013. The Fort Worth’s new transportable maintenance capability is making a large difference on deployment, even allowing the ship to conduct maintenance work in Japan, Pratt said.
“When Freedom deployed, all of the maintenance was done in Singapore. From an operational deployment standpoint, she was limited in where she could operate because every 25 days she had to go to Singapore for maintenance,” Pratt added. “What this capability does is it vastly expands the deployment envelope for the ship, allowing for maintenance in other places besides Singapore.”
The Fort Worth was able to operate in the vicinity of Japan for about two months before returning to Singapore due to the new maintenance strategy. Overall, the Fort Worth has had twice as much time underway compared with the USS Freedom.
The Navy plans to use this transportable maintenance technique on an upcoming deployment of the USS Coronado, or LCS 4, next year.
“We will use the same container for tools but we will build a separate container for the ship’s parts because the parts for this variant are different,” Pratt explained.
The new maintenance approach on the USS Fort Worth allowed the ship to miss a scheduled maintenance availability and immediately respond to a call for action when the ship was asked to assist in the search for the downed Air Asia plane in the Java Sea last year.
“The ship was in such good shape it was able to cancel an entire maintenance availability and the ship embarked some Navy divers with their side scan sonar capability,” Pratt explained.
-- Kris Osborn can be reached at Osborn@military.com