It’s the third time since December that a Freedom-class LCS has suffered a serious malfunction. In December, the brand-new Milwaukee broke down at sea and had to be towed to a Virginia port. In January, the Fort Worth — in the midst of what was until then a remarkably successful deployment to Singapore — was severely damaged by an in-port accident to her propulsion system. The ship languished the last seven months in Singapore, and only got underway on Aug. 22.
The Freedom’s latest problems began July 11 when a sailor noted a drain leaking into the bilge from a seawater pump seal attached to the ship’s No. 2 main propulsion diesel engine as the LCS was operating off Southern California. Sources familiar with the incident told Defense News the leak was plugged using a damage control plug.
Seawater then entered the engine’s lubrication oil system, said Lt. Rebecca Haggard, a spokesperson for San Diego-based Naval Surface Forces (SURFOR), but the ship continued to operate.
In a statement, SURFOR said Freedom returned to San Diego on July 13 on her own power to conduct repairs on a separate, unrelated issue and, while in port, carried out procedures to decontaminate the lube oil system of seawater. The Freedom then got underway on July 19 for more than a week of Rim of the Pacific Exercises off Southern California, returning to San Diego July 28.
But back in port, an investigation of the engine on Aug. 3 “found significant damage to the engine caused by rust and seawater,” SURFOR said. So many engine components were damaged that, SURFOR added, the engine “will need to be removed and rebuilt or replaced.” more