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LPD 17 Ready for Work-Ups: U.S. Navy

Aug. 3, 2011 - 03:45AM   |  
By WILLIAM H. MCMICHAEL   |   Comments
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With nearly two years of repairs now completed - "fully" completed, officials insist - the amphibious transport dock San Antonio (LPD 17) began the first phase of pre-deployment training August 3 at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

But in yet another indictment of former lead repair contractor Earl Industries of Norfolk, Naval Sea Systems Command revealed August 3 that in addition to fixing leaks found on all four main propulsion engines in July during a post-repair at-sea training period, it had discovered "multiple instances of incomplete or incorrectly completed work" by Earl that also had to be repaired.

The newly discovered problems included foreign material exclusion plugs left in the drain piping system, use of incorrect material and improper installation and sealing of gaskets, NAVSEA said.

The Navy canceled its San Antonio-class multi-ship, multi-option maintenance contract with Earl in May, citing a "loss of confidence in Earl Industries' ability to successfully complete repairs to LPD 17 class ships." The latest findings, NAVSEA said, "are consistent with NAVSEA's decision to cancel Earl Industries' contract."

San Antonio, delivered incomplete to the Navy in 2005 and deployed only once due to widespread problems, got underway July 6 for at-sea training following post-repair sea trials touted as successful by Navy officials.

But shipboard personnel discovered leaking gaskets on an engine cooling system and leaking fuel-oil containers known as leak-off boxes. The new problems forced an engine shutdown, a premature halt to at-sea training, a canceled port visit and a July 16 return to Norfolk for unscheduled repairs.

The ship got underway August 1 for testing of the repairs, completed by Norfolk Naval Shipyard workers, and returned to port Wednesday morning, NAVSEA said. With success declared, Afloat Training Group Atlantic trainers were cleared to board the ship and begin the basic phase, a combination of in-port and at-sea assessment and training that lasts 20 weeks, said Lt. Cmdr. Bill Urban of Naval Surface Force Atlantic.

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