The USS Coronado, a Littoral Combat Ship (LCS-4), experienced an “engineering casualty” Aug. 30, four days after leaving Pearl Harbor to deploy to the Western Pacific, the Navy said.
The Austal USA [ASB] Independence-class ship is now returning to Hawaii to determine the extent of the problem and undergo repairs, the Navy said in a statement. The vessel, which has a crew of about 70 sailors, is operating under its own power and is being escorted by oiler USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO-187).
“The extent of repairs and any operational impact is unknown at this time,” the Navy said. “An assessment of the casualty will be completed upon return to Pearl Harbor. The casualty appears to be unrelated to recent propulsion problems” on two Lockheed Martin [LMT] Freedom-class ships, the USS Freedom (LCS-1) and the USS Fort Worth (LCS-3).
In July, one of the main propulsion diesel engines on LCS-1 sustained “significant damage” from seawater contamination. The Navy said the engine will likely have to be rebuilt or replaced. The cause of the leak is under investigation.
In January, LCS-3 experienced damage to its combining gears, which allow the vessel to configure its gas turbines and diesel engines to provide propulsion. The Navy blamed the incident on a failure to follow established maintenance procedures.
A fourth LCS, the Freedom-class USS Milwaukee (LCS-5), had to be towed to a base in December after a software glitch resulted in damage to the propulsion system.
Adm. John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations, said in a statement that the various LCS problems were caused by a mix of “personnel and training” issues and “design and engineering” issues, all of which are “receiving our full and immediate attention.”
A recently completed review of the LCS program by Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, commander of Naval Surface Forces, “recommends changes to the crewing, deployment, mission module, training and testing concepts,” Richardson said. The review is “being briefed to leadership before implementation. I also support Vice Adm. Rowden’s decision to improve oversight class-wide, which will result in the retraining and certifying of all LCS sailors who work in engineering.”
As for “the engineering issues, we are reviewing each one and making the appropriate corrections,” Richardson said. “For instance, the software problem on USS Milwaukee has been corrected for all ships.”