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