Freedom Class LCS Ships In Service 100% Failure Rate

The LCS saga continues. The USS Freedom suffered another serious failure. There are currently three Freedom Class Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) in service — USS Freedom, USS Fort Worth, and the USS Milwaukee. In the past twelve months, all three of the ships in service have suffered major engine or propulsion gear failures, an unenviable record.

The Navy announced yesterday that the USS Freedom suffered damage to one of its two diesel engines, which will require either a major overhaul or replacement of the engine. The Freedom Class LCS are powered by two Colt-Pielstick diesel engines and two Rolls-Royce MT30 36 MW gas turbines driving four waterjets. The damage to the USS Freedom was reportedly caused by a leak in a pump seal which allowed seawater to leak into the lube oil system. How long the repairs will take and how long the ship will be out of service are unknown.

Last December, the USS Milwaukee, the second of the Freedom class, suffered combining gear failure while in the Atlantic, shortly after delivery from the shipyard, while on its way to a deployment in San Diego. The combining gear is a complex set of gears which “combines” the output from the ship’s Rolls Royce MT-30 gas turbines and Colt-Pielstick diesel engines to the ship’s water jets. The casualty has been blamed on slipping clutches which may have been caused by a software error. The clutch slippage caused fine metallic debris to clog and cut off the lube system on the gear. The after tow months in a shipyard, the damage was repaired, new software installed and the ship returned to service.

In January, the USS Fort Worth, the third Freedom Class LCS, was testing its engines at dockside in Singapore when it seriously damaged the ship’s combining gear. The casualty was caused by the crew allowing the gear to run dry without adequate lubrication, leading to overheating. After an estimated $23 million in repairs, the ship is making her way back to San Diego. The captain of the ship at the time of the casualty was relieved of his command.

In a previous deployment to Singapore in 2013, USS Freedom was delayed by genset control failures, problems with water jet controls and coolant problems. The ship has suffered repeated hull cracking, which have limited operating speed.

A fourth of the class, USS Detroit, was delivered on August 16th, but has not entered service. The commissioning ceremony is expected in October.

Thanks Old Salt Blog for this post

LCS ships design history

LCS ships design history

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Explosion in New York Harbor

Black Tom — 100 Years Ago, the Night New York Harbor Exploded

At around 2 a.m. on the Sunday morning of July 30, 1916, one hundred years ago today, explosions on Black Tom Island rocked New York harbor. The blasts lit the night sky and shook the earth with the force of a Richter scale 5.5 earthquake. Black Tom Island, located on the New Jersey side of the harbor, was one of the largest munitions terminals in the country, storing and shipping millions of tons of ammunition and high explosives to the French and the British, who were in the second year of what was then called the “Great War” against Germany and it allies.

The explosions that rocked the harbor were an estimated two million pounds of munitions detonating, sending bullets and shrapnel flying into the night, seriously damaging the nearby Statue of Liberty. Thousands of windows in the skyscrapers of downtown Manhattan and in Brooklyn were blown out. Windows as far north as Time Square in midtown were also shattered. In Jersey City, the outer wall of City Hall was cracked and the stained glass windows at St. Patrick’s Church were smashed. The clock tower of The Jersey Journal building in Journal Square, over a mile away, was struck by debris, stopping the clock at 2:12 a.m. Five hundred immigrants at Ellis Island were evacuated. The blasts were heard and felt for, at least, 90 miles in every direction, as far as Maryland and Connecticut.  In Philadelphia, residents were woken up by the explosions.

Remarkably, although hundreds were injured, fewer than ten people are believed to have died.  The damage was estimated at more than $20 million or nearly half a billion in today’s dollars.

What happened? Initially it was assumed to be an industrial accident. Two nightwatchmen, who had lit flaming smudge pots to control the mosquitoes, were immediately arrested, and then released when it became clear that the pots had not been the cause of the explosions. Only years later, after the end of World War I was it determined that the explosions had been an act of sabotage organized by German agents. In 1939 after seventeen years of deliberation, the German-American Mixed Claims Commission ruled that Germany was responsible for the sabotage. Germany was ordered to pay reparations of $50 million to all claimants, but the restitution was not paid due to the intervention of World War II. After the war, Germany agreed to settle on outstanding war claims that included those related to the Black Tom explosion.  The final payments were not made until 1979.

Black Tom has often been called a terrorist attack. It wasn’t at least not by the legal definition of terrorism.  The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives…”

The German agents were not attempting to terrorize, intimidate or coerce.  The United States in 1916 was nominally neutral even though American firms were able to sell anything they wished to either side although the British naval blockade of German ports cut out German as a potential customer of the American munitions factories.  The German agent’s only goal was to stop or reduce the flow of arms and munitions from New York harbor to Britain and France, preferably without jeopardizing American neutrality.  On the last point, they largely succeed.  The US did enter the war in 1917, but it did not do so because of Black Tom. President Wilson only gave up on neutrality and declared war after the Germans resumed unrestricted submarine warfare and attempted to form a military alliance with Mexico.

The Statue of Liberty’s torch has been closed to the public since the explosion. Prior to the July 1916 explosion visitors could climb a precarious ladder in her arm to enjoy the view from the torch. That ended with damage from  the Black Tom explosion.

The island named Black Tom no longer exists. Landfill has made Black Tom Island part of the what is now Liberty State Park in Jersey City. Much of what was Black Tom is now a pick-nick area and children’s playground at the end of Morris Pesin Drive in the southeastern corner of the park. A plaque marks the spot of the explosion. A circle of American flags complements the plaque, which stands east of the visitors’ center.

The post Black Tom — 100 Years Ago, the Night New York Harbor Exploded appeared first on Old Salt Blog.


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Congratulations to the schooner Spirit of South Carolina and all who sail and support her!

Congratulations to the schooner Spirit of South Carolina and all who sail and support her! After languishing for years, the schooner has new owners, a new captain and officers and was recently re-certified to carry passengers by the US Coast Guard. She will soon be sailing North to New England for a program of port visits and teen summer camps before returning to South Carolina in October.
A few years ago, we posted about “The Unfortunate Economics of Tall Ships.” Finding the money to operate a tall or historic ship is a tough business. More fail than succeed. One of the several ships we mentioned that had fallen on hard times was the schooner Spirit of South Carolina. The 140′ schooner’s keel was laid in 2001 and she was launched in 2007. She was put up for sale in 2011 when the foundation that built and operated her ran into financial problems. For several years, there were no buyers. Finally, in 2014, the bank which held her mortgage sold her at auction to two Charleston businessmen, Tommy Baker and Michael Bennett. They have brought the schooner back into service and will be operating her as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. Receiving the USCG Certificate of Inspection (COI) is a major milestone.
The Spirit of South Carolina also has two fine new officers. Captain Richard Bailey and Doug Faunt, both late of the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry, are serving as Captain and Mate/Engineer, respectively. Several decades ago I was fortunate to sail briefly on HMS Rose as volunteer crew with Captain Bailey in command. Captain Bailey has also commanded the schooners Spirit of Massachusetts, Westward, and Harvey Gamage, and the three-masted barkentine Gazela Primeiro. An excellent captain.
One of my fellow crew members on HMS Rose was Doug Faunt, who amazed us all by hooking up a short wave connection so we could send messages by a then new-fangled system called email. Very impressive. (Wonder whether that email thing ever caught on.)
We wish the Spirit of South Carolina and those who sail and support her only fair winds and good fortune.

Spirit of South Carolina

Spirit of South Carolina

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America’s Newest Tall Ship Looking for Deckhands, Oliver Hazard Perry

This sounds like a great opportunity for licensed deckhands. The Sailing School Vessel (SSV) Oliver Hazard Perry is looking for crew. From their recent announcement:

Volunteers needed and full time staff

Volunteers needed and full time staff

Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island (OHPRI) is seeking to hire licensed deckhands for its brand new 200-foot SSV Oliver Hazard Perry, which is based in Newport, R.I. and scheduled to sail throughout New England this summer. The Tall Ship is the first full-rigged ocean-going ship to be built in the United States in over 100 years and requires that crew applying hold an Able Seaman license or Masters license (any tonnage) with auxiliary sail endorsement or international equivalent.
“Anyone who has been watching the project and wanting to get aboard and be part of our first operational crew: now is the time to make a move!” said OHPRI Executive Director Jess Wurzbacher. “We’ve got an exciting summer ahead with lots of sailing and some adult trips coming up in the Fall.”
Wurzbacher pointed out that SSV Oliver Hazard Perry has everything crews love about Tall Ships, but none of the things they don’t. “There’s a 130-foot rig to climb and seven miles of line to haul at the start of the day, but there are hot showers and climate controlled spacious accommodations to retreat to at the end of the day.” SSV Oliver Hazard Perry’s modern amenities below also include an environmental science lab, state-of-the art classroom technology, wheelchair accessibility, and climate-controlled learning spaces. Above decks, her rig includes 19 spars and 20 sails for a total 14,000 square feet of sail area.
OHPRI will run programs for students of all ages during year-round operation, initially along the East Coast, but the organization has plans for venturing much farther afield, as the Perry is designed and equipped for ocean-going voyages. The ship’s programs this summer include one- to two-week voyages in partnership with academic institutions as well as teen summer programs and adult voyages in the Fall.
“While our immediate openings are only for licensed deck crew, we are growing our professional development program to help the right candidates gain their Able Seaman license and progress up into a licensed position aboard,” said Wurzbacher.
Deck crew members work the ship both on deck and aloft. They also lead the trainee crew members (both youth and adult) in all aspects of shipboard operations.
Applicants must be comfortable working aloft; willing to live by the rules and regulations aboard the ship, and suited for the duties and responsibilities outlined at employment
Positions are full-time and live-aboard. (Room and board provided.) To be paid, candidates must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
For more information, email Follow OHPRI on Facebook and Twitter for current news and developments.

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Mayflower II Under Restoration

There is a pretty cool history around the Mayflower II. Mystic Seaport’s Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard is working in partnership with Plimoth Plantation to restore Mayflower II. Mayflower II will move back to its berth at the Plimouth Plantation for the summer and then return to Mystic for an extended restoration in the Fall lasting into 2019.  

Mayflower II is a replica of the 17th-century ship Mayflower, which carried the Pilgrims to the New England in 1620. The replica was built in Devon, England and sailed to the United States in 1957 under the command of Alan Villiers. Also at Mystic Seaport is the full-rigged iron ship Joseph Conrad which Villiers sailed around the world in 1934-1936 with a crew of sail trainees.

A video of the reconstruction produced by the Seaport:

Journey to Restoration: Mayflower II at Mystic Seaport

 Thanks Old Salt Blog for the story.

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Hull Repair For The HMS Victory

The old girl is collapsing! Not really but really. Please read this story I found on “Old Salt Blog” and watch the video.

Last week we made a post with the headline, HMS Victory ‘Collapsing’ Under Her Own Weight.  The headline was alarmist at best.  (We borrowed it from the BBC, but that is no excuse.)  The historic ship will, of course, not be allowed to collapse under its own weight.  David Hayes of the Historic Naval Fiction blog was kind enough to pass along this very interesting video about the engineering behind the 136 metal supports being installed to support, or as the video refers to it , “re-support,” HMS Victory to control the bulging and racking of the hull.

Re-supporting HMS Victory

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Remote Submarine Hunter Passes Sea Trials

I found this story pretty interesting, future here today. I look at it as Terminator today. Imagine men in a bunker somewhere remotely fighting wars? Sound far fetched? It is here today and will get into mainstream more and more.


Read below:

The US military is testing the technology for Sea Hunter, the first ASW Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV), a 132 feet long autonomous drone ship designed to track enemy submarines. The ship is designed to be unmanned and operate autonomously and/or by remote control. Each ACTUV is expected to cost around $20 million dollars. The project was initiated by the Pentagon research group, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The Navy could move to the next phase of development by 2018. If the project is successful it could have a major impact on the role of drones in both maritime security and ship operations.

The US Navy is facing the challenge of countering the potential threat from a new generation of diesel-electric submarines. The new submarines are more silent and stealthy than nuclear submarines and far cheaper to build and operate. The concern is that China, Iran or some other nation might be able to send a fleet of these subs toward the United States and overwhelm US anti-submarine tracking capabilities. The idea is to counter this threat by using a fleet of unmanned drone ships to detect and continuously track diesel-electric submarines.

Will the ACTUV work? The first round of testing has gone well. As reported by Defense One:

In six weeks of tests along a 35-nautical mile stretch of water off of Mississippi, testers at engineering company Leidos and DARPA put theACTUV’s systems through 100 different scenarios. The test boat, equipped with nothing more than off-the-shelf radar components, a digital area chart and some proprietary software, was able to complete an autonomous trip without crashing into rocks, shoals, or erratically behaving surface vessels. In future tests, the ship will tail a target boat at 1 kilometer’s distance.

Most importantly, the tests showed that the robot boat could execute a difficult military mission without violating the maritime laws outlined in the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea. They also provided a critical proof-of-concept for machine-learning systems at sea, showing that big robots can, indeed, navigate the open seas along with cruise ships and shrimp boats. The next big challenge for the ACTUV will be the same kind of tests, but with “enemy ships” trying to block or interfere with it.

Courtesy of Old Salt Blog.

See the video here!

Drones and Drone ships from CNN

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Battleship North Carolina

A great cause and a great story for our state battleship.

Enjoy our heritage and see a great ship!


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My Version of a Skip Jack

Lets see if we remember were we left off??

Lets see if we remember were we left off??

thank goodness for plans and directions

thank goodness for plans and directions

I had put this one up before the holidays as we were so busy but it is time for me to get it finished up! I love ship models and miniatures of all kinds. This wooden model came as a kit and I am doing my version of what a Skip Jack should look like. This style of sailboat has been in use for a long time and made a living for people in Maryland.

I will post more pics as we move along and thanks to some encouragement from another WordPress blogger, it is work bench time.

A little history about the boat and it’s use:

The Skipjack is sloop-rigged, with a sharply raked mast and extremely long boom (typically the same length as the deck of the boat). The mainsail is ordinarily triangular, though gaff rigged examples were built. The jib is self-tending and mounted on a bowsprit. This sail plan affords the power needed to pull the dredge, particularly in light winds, while at the same time minimizing the crew required to handle the boat.

The hull is wooden and V-shaped, with a hard chine and a square stern. In order to provide a stable platform when dredging, Skipjacks have very low freeboard and a wide beam (averaging one third the length on deck). A centerboard is mounted in lieu of a keel. The mast is hewn from a single log, with two stays on either side, without spreaders; it is stepped towards the bow of the boat, with a small cabin. As typical in regional practice the bow features a curving longhead under the bowsprit, with carved and painted trailboards. A small figurehead is common. A typical skipjack is 40 to 50 feet in length. The boats use direct link Edson worm steering gear mounted immediately forward of the transom.

The dredge windlass and its motor are mounted amidships, between the mast and deckhouse. Rollers and bumpers are mounted on either side of the boat to guide the dredge line and protect the hull.

Due to state laws, the boat has no motor (other than for the windlass). Most Skipjacks were eventually modified with stern davits to hold a dinghy or pushboat to allow motorized travel as permitted by law.

The Skipjack arose near the end of the the 1800s. Dredging for oysters, prohibited in 1820, was again made legal in 1865. Boats of the time were unsuitable, and the bugeye developed out of the log canoe in order to provide a boat with more power adapted to the shallow waters of the oyster beds.

The bugeye was originally constructed with a log hull, and as the supply of appropriate timber was exhausted and construction costs rose, builders looked to other designs. They adapted the sharpies of Long Island Sound by increasing the beam and simplifying the sail plan. The result was cheaper and simpler to construct than the bugeye, and it quickly became the predominant oystering boat in the bay.

Debate remains to this day about the origins of the name. Some speculate it came from a name New England fisherman called the flying fish, Bonita. Still others claim it is derived from an archaic English term, meaning an “inexpensive yet useful servant.”

Maryland’s oyster harvest reached an all-time peak in 1884, at approximately 15 million bushels of oysters. The oyster harvest has since declined steadily, especially at the end of the 20th century. The size of the fleet has likewise declined. New Skipjacks were built as late as 1993, but a change in the law in 1965 allowed the use of motor power two days of the week. As a result, few of the boats are operated under sail in commercial use; instead, a pushboat is used to move the Skipjack, and little dredging is done except on the days that power is allowed.

At one time, the number of Skipjacks produced is estimated at approximately 2000; today, they number about 30. The future of the fleet remains in doubt as efforts continue to restore the productivity of the oyster beds.

The skipjack was designated the state boat of Maryland in 1985.

Bob Winfrey


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First Look at New Ulstein X-STERN Hull


1.7.16.x_Hull-arrivalThis hull is designed to help cut resistance in the water and help cut fuel consumption. A brave experiment and logistics to build something of this design were difficult at best. Read below.

The first of two new Service Operation Vessels (SOV) featuring the new Ulstein X-Stern arrived at the Ulstein Verft shipyard in Ulsteinvik, Norway after making the trek from Poland where the hulls are being construction.

The vessel is first to feature the new X-Stern hull designed by Ulstein.

The two vessels are being built for Bernhard Schulte Offshore/WINDEA for work in the offshore wind industry supporting wind farm operations and maintenance, technician accommodation and transport, and safe reliable access to offshore installations.

The X-STERN was first introduced in 2014 as the successor to Ulstein’s popular X-BOW hull. The X-STERN is designed so that a vessel can be positioned with the stern faced towards the weather instead of the bow, leading to improved weather resistance, greater operability and reduced power and fuel consumption while on DP mode.

Ulstein received the order for the vessels in January 2015 by Germany-based Bernhard Schulte through its offshore wind affiliate WINDEA Offshore, marking the first order for the X-STERN hull.

After final outfitting and sea trials, the vessel is expected to begin work at the Gemini wind farm in the Netherlands for SIEMENS Wind Power Service.

Vessel Particulars: Length 88 m, breadth 18 m, speed 13.5 knots and accommodation for 60 people.

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