The U.S. Navy said on Nov. 18 that it has accepted delivery at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine Shipyard in Marinette, Wis. the future USS Minneapolis–St. Paul (LCS-21)–the 11th Freedom-class LCS by a a Lockheed Martin [LMT]-led team and the first with a combining gear modification to allow unrestricted operations.
Testing of the fix on LCS-21 took six months, while testing on future ships may take less time, possibly four to five months, the Navy said.
In January, the Navy stopped accepting delivery of the Freedom-class variant due to a latent, material defect in the combining gear and said that the service would only resume once a fix was installed and tested on ships following land-based testing (Defense Daily, Jan. 22). Deployed, “in-service” LCS are operating under a “class advisory” to limit the risk to those ships until the Navy installs and tests the fix.
Rear Adm. Casey Moton, the Navy’s program executive officer for unmanned and small combatants, told reporters on Nov. 18 that the Navy and Lockheed Martin are splitting the cost of the repair 50-50.
“The shareline for the shipbuilding contract itself is 50-50 so any overrun on the normal shipbuilding contract is an overrun that the Navy pays 50 percent; industry pays 50 percent” he said. “That is not unique to LCS. Many of our shipbuilding contracts are the same construct. Under the latent defect provision, the financial responsibility for a latent defect reverts to the same contract as was used for the shipbuilding. That’s where the 50-50 comes from that we are pursuing…with Lockheed Martin for the fix itself.”
After the defect surfaced on LCS-21, combining gear original manufacturer RENK AG conducted a root cause analysis that concluded the two bearings on the high-speed clutch were not sufficient for the load, and the Navy implemented a design change to change out the ball bearings for journal bearings.
Lockheed Martin said on Nov. 18 that the fix will be on “applicable” LCS-5 through LCS-31 ships. “The design modification for Cleveland (LCS-31) is complete and is currently being implemented on Cooperstown (LCS-23),” the company said.
Not having the fix would reduce LCS speed, Moton said.
“We tried to strike the right balance to give as minimum an impact to that as we possibly could to the fleet, but also reducing that loading and the stress on the clutches,” he said.
Moton declined to release the possible speed reduction, nor the Navy’s cost estimate of the fix, as he said that the Navy and Lockheed Martin are still negotiating.
The Navy said last summer that in-service LCS may have to wait years for the fix (Defense Daily, Aug. 3).
“Pending successful at-sea testing of its combining gear modification, Cooperstown (LCS-23) is planned to deliver in January 2022,” the Navy said on Nov. 18. “Additional ships in various stages of construction include Marinette (LCS- 25), Nantucket (LCS-27), Beloit (LCS-29) and Cleveland (LCS-31).”
The future USS Minneapolis–Saint Paul is the second so-named naval ship to honor Minnesota’s Twin Cities, the first being a Los Angeles-class submarine (SSN-688) launched in 1983 and decommissioned in 2007, the Navy said.