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Breakdowns leave 2 of Navy’s newest ships stuck in port

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01:07 - Source: CNN
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The past 2 months have been rough sailing for the U.S. Navy's newest class of warship, the littoral combat ship

Troubles for the ships, which cost around $360 million, began in December, when the USS Milwaukee broke down

A month later, its sister ship, the USS Fort Worth, is tied up at a dock in Singapore

CNN —  

The past two months have been anything but smooth sailing for the U.S. Navy’s newest class of warship, the littoral combat ship.

Troubles for the ships, which cost around $360 million apiece, began in December, when the USS Milwaukee (LCS 5), broke down off the East Coast and had to be towed 40 miles to a naval base in Virginia. The 388-foot-long, 3,400-ton Milwaukee was on its way to its home port of San Diego after commissioning in November.

The Milwaukee became disabled in the Atlantic when metallic debris was found in filter systems in the ship, causing a loss of pressure in lubricant to gears that transfer power from the ship’s diesel and gas turbine engines to its water jet propulsion system.

The cause of the issue has yet to be identified, and an investigation continues, said Lt. Rebecca Haggard, a Navy spokeswoman.

Just a month after the Milwaukee mishap, its sister ship, the USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), is tied up at a dock in Singapore with what the U.S. Pacific Fleet calls “a casualty to the ship’s combining gears.”

“Based on initial indications, the casualty occurred due to an apparent failure to follow procedures during an operational test of the port and starboard main propulsion diesel engines,” said a statement from the Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Issues involving standard operating procedures are very rare, said Lt. Cmdr. Matt Knight, a Navy spokesman, who said that before this incident, the Fort Worth had been a “model of reliability” while deployed in the U.S. 7th fleet over the past year.

The Navy is also looking into what brought on the January 12 incident on the Fort Worth so corrective actions can be taken. It has not determined how long the investigation will take.

“It is too early to speculate on costs or repair timelines,” Knight said. “We have the right resources in place to conduct the necessary inspections, determine the extent of the damage and required repairs, and return Fort Worth back to operational status.”

But even without all the facts, Navy officials said that evidence does not suggest a link between the two incidents that would reflect a systemic issue in the LCS program.