The admiral in charge of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program said yesterday he was still awaiting a final determination behind a failed shaft seal on the first ship of the class but was confident it will not require a redesign on it or future ones of the same variant.
“My sense is I won’t need a redesign,” Rear Adm. James Murdoch, the LCS program executive officer, said in an interview with Defense Daily.
Murdoch said he expects to receive a final analysis from contractor Lockheed Martin [LMT] by the end of this week as to why the engine shaft seal on the USS Freedom (LCS-1) failed and caused the ship to take on water.
“Our analysis doesn’t really show yet conclusively what the cause was, but I am very eager to get by the end of this week a report back from the manufacturer that says that everything that was constructed into that seal either was or was not correct and we’ll take it from there,” he said.
The Freedom was placed into dry dock in San Diego for repairs on Feb. 25 after suffering a leak off the coast of California earlier that month, in yet another problem for a ship that experienced hull cracking and required repairs last year.
Murdoch said even though the faulty seal appeared to be an isolated problem, his program would follow standard practice and take a look at newer ships of the Freedom variant to ensure there is no potential for similar problems, including on the USS Fort Worth (LCS-3), which is scheduled for delivery to the Navy later this spring.
“We always do that, in LCS or in any ship building program,” he said. “If you have an issue out there, that is the first thing you think about.”
Murdoch said it would have been possible to repair the Freedom while keeping it in the water, but because it was the first in the class putting it in dry dock was the best option for an “end-to-end” examination.
Joe North, Lockheed Martin’s vice president for LCS, told reporters earlier this week that the problems with the shaft seal had been narrowed down to two causes, but would not be more specific pending a final review from Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA). He said there were a “couple of things that look like may have been the cause.”
Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for the Freedom design along with Wisconsin-based partner Marinette Marine. Austal USA is building the second variant with the USS Independence (LCS-2) as the lead ship.