By CHRISTOPHER P. CAVAS
WASHINGTON — Another relatively minor problem is keeping the US littoral combat ship Freedom from meeting a scheduled commitment during its deployment to Singapore.
This time, a steering indicator is malfunctioning, delaying the ship’s scheduled Monday departure from the Changi naval base in Singapore. Freedom is to take part in Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercises in Brunei, the last in a series of international exercises before the ship returns to its homeport of San Diego.
“Technicians currently do not expect this problem to significantly affect Freedom’s deployment schedule,” said Lt. Cmdr. Clay Doss, a spokesman for the US Navy’s Western Pacific logistics group in Singapore. “We are confident that the right combination of technical assistance, maintenance and parts support are in theater now to address this issue.”
The indicator malfunction was revealed Sunday as the ship was going through steering checks, Doss said. There had been no problems when the same checks were run two days previously, he added.
The problem affects the indicators for the port steerable waterjet.
“If the indicator is not functioning properly, bridge watchstanders cannot tell whether the waterjet is responding to steering commands,” Doss said. “Though less optimal, manual steering control is possible at a local control panel.”
Doss would give no estimate for how long repairs could take.
“The ship has requested technical assistance to replace the damaged feedback cable,” he said. “While Freedom could get underway with the starboard drive train, there are no plans to do so until repairs are accomplished.”
The latest issue, he said, is not related to a different problem reported on Oct. 21 when a discharge pipe from a motor lube oil cooler in the starboard steerable waterjet hydraulic system suffered a half-inch rupture. “That system was repaired and the starboard drive train is fully operational,” Doss said.
A series of apparently non-related engineering issues has nagged at the ship throughout its deployment, which began March 1. Freedom has met most of its operational commitments, although some problems have either caused the ship to return to port, or remain at Changi while repairs are made.
While Doss would not discuss specific dates for Freedom’s schedule, the Brunei Navy reported that ceremonies marking the beginning of the CARAT exercises with the US were held Nov. 5 at Muara.
Freedom is expected to return to San Diego in December, shortly before Christmas.