By: Avery Kleinman
Stars and Stripes reports this morning that the USS Freedom, a first-in-class littoral combat ship (LCS), is docked for repairs for the second time in three months.
Navy officials said the $500 million ship is undergoing maintenance after seawater was found in the starboard steerable water-jet hydraulic system. In July, exhaust leaks caused the ship’s generators to malfunction.
Navy officials emphasized that the Freedom’s maintenance issues are routine, but the problems are far from new to the Navy’s LCS program, which has been criticized since its inception for cost overruns and structural deficiencies.
From Stars and Stripes:
In March, while the Freedom traversed the Pacific en route to its inaugural overseas deployment, media reports cited commander of naval surface forces, Vice Adm. Tom Copeman, as criticizing the littoral ships for lacking firepower. Two weeks later, a fire was reported aboard the LCS Coronado during sea trials.
In July, the Government Accountability Office recommended the Navy slow construction of the ships so more testing can be done to determine whether they can meet the Navy’s needs. The Navy disputed the recommendation and pledged to move ahead with the current delivery schedule.
A month later, chief of naval operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert established a working group — the LCS Council — to evaluate the LCS program as well as crew rotations and maintenance plans.
The Navy originally planned to procure a total of 55 LCSs, however that figure was subsequently reduced. The Pentagon is now actively considering cutting the program in half and halting procurement once current contracts are fulfilled.
In 2012, the Project On Government Oversight released documents to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees showing the high number of design flaws and equipment failures of the ships. Clearly, these design flaws continue to manifest during the LCS’s deployment.
See more of POGO’s reporting on the LCS here.