WASHINGTON — Following two more serious engineering incidents involving separate littoral combat ships, the commander of US naval surface forces ordered an engineering stand down on all LCS crews and directed all LCS sailors to be retrained in engineering procedures.
Although the Navy announced the moves Sept. 5, the stand downs were all completed by Aug. 31, the Navy said in a statement released late Monday.
The training, Vice Adm. Tom Rowden said in the statement, will take place over the next 30 days, and allow leadership "to review our training program and determine if other changes need to be made to the training pipeline."
The Navy’s Surface Warfare Officer School (SWOS) in Newport, Rhode Island will head the training, Rowden said.
"The required engineering training will be conducted by the SWOS' engineering team, who will develop both a level of knowledge test and specialized training that will be deployed in the next 30 days to the LCS engineering force," the Navy statement said. "The commanding officer of SWOS is also conducting a comprehensive LCS engineering review, which will likely take 30-60 days. From there, more adjustments may be made to the engineering training pipeline."
The stand-down was prompted by the discovery on Aug. 3 that poor response procedures aboard the LCS Freedom in July resulted in significant damage to a main propulsion diesel engine that likely will need replacement.
Poor engineering procedures also apparently are behind a more serious Jan. 12 incident when the Fort Worth was damaged while in port at Singapore. The ship only now is in the midst of a long voyage back to San Diego for permanent repairs. The Navy has yet to reveal the results of an investigation into the incident.
The Freedom and Fort Worth are Freedom-class steel-hulled variants of the LCS. But the Independence-class Coronado suffered another casualty Aug. 29 as it was headed from Hawaii to a deployment based in Singapore. The Coronado completed an 800-nautical-mile turnaround voyage Sunday when it returned to Pearl Harbor, carried out with a speed restriction of 10 knots.
The ship "experienced a casualty to one of its flexible couplings assemblies," the Navy said in Monday’s statement.
In Pearl Harbor, a "small group of maintenance experts met the ship to take a holistic look at the engineering program on board," the Navy statement said. "A preliminary investigation will provide an initial assessment and procedural review of the situation, and any shortfalls will be addressed quickly to get the ship fixed and back on deployment."
Coronado had just completed an apparently successful participation in the month-long Rim of the Pacific exercises in July.
Full-Scale Shock Trials Held for LCS Milwaukee
Meanwhile, on the East Coast, the first of a series of three full-scale shock trials (FSST) apparently was carried out Sunday afternoon on the Freedom-class Milwaukee.
According to the US Geological Survey, an "experimental explosion" with a 3.8 magnitude disturbance took place at 2:29 pm eastern daylight time about 167 kilometers east north east of Flagler Beach, Florida — the same region where three similar tests were carried out in June and July with the Independence-class Jackson.
The FSSTs involve setting off a 10,000-pound explosive near the ship, on the order of about 150 yards away for the first test. Subsequent tests move ship closer.
The tests are intended to examine how the ship and its systems react to explosives, testing not only the equipment but the predictive models used to calculate the effects.
The Jackson recently completed repairs from its FSSTs, which the Navy called successful, with damage either as expected or better than expected.