The Littoral Combat Ship ( ) USS Freedom suffered another leak that is disrupting the ship’s schedule, a U.S. Navy official says.
Officials say the latest reported problem is unrelated to earlier leaks acknowledged on the Freedom’s current Western Pacific deployment, but sources confirm that the ship has a history of similar problems.
While the Freedom was pierside in Singapore on Oct. 20, “the crew received a malfunction indication for the gas turbine machinery room,” Navy spokesman Capt. Darryn James says.
The crew investigated and found about three feet of water in the bilge, James says. “The crew controlled the flooding, dewatered the space and traced the problem to a small [0.5 in.] rupture in the seawater service system piping. This section of piping transports seawater to engineering systems throughout the ship.”
Though this section of the seawater service system piping connects to the gas turbine lube oil cooler, “this issue is not related to previous lube oil system problems that occurred during Freedom’s maiden overseas deployment,” James says. “Technicians will fully examine the problem and determine specific factors that contributed to the needed repairs.”
After spending the last few weeks in port, Freedom was scheduled to get underway on Oct. 21, to conduct local operations for a few days before returning to port for a maintenance period.
“That underway portion will not occur and the ship will remain in port to conduct needed repairs,” James says. “Until repairs are made, the ship cannot operate the gas turbine engines, but both diesel engines are fully functional.”
A combination of diesel engines, gas turbines and waterjets allows the ship to reach speeds near 50 knots. The turbines are what give the Freedom the extra propulsion punch for such speed.
“Though Freedom could get underway using her diesel engines, there are no plans, and no need, to do so until repairs are accomplished,” says James. “This pipe leak will result in minimal operational impact to the ship. Although maintenance issues can sometimes cause unpredictable schedule impacts, technicians currently do not expect this problem to significantly affect Freedom’s schedule.”
“The ship was scheduled to be in an upcoming maintenance period anyway,” James says. “We are confident that the right combination of technical assistance, maintenance and parts support are in theater now to address this issue.”
Getting Freedom fixed and underway again is important. “Operations conducted by Freedom with our partners in Southeast Asia are a critical part of the Navy’s rebalance to the Pacific,” says James.
“The Freedom crew continues to perform well as they capture lessons learned in this proof-of-concept overseas deployment that will lead to improvements in the LCS program,” James says.
“While I cannot discuss specific maintenance timelines, technicians are working quickly to repair the problem as the ship prepares for her next operational commitment at Carat [Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training] Brunei in November.”
Freedom is expected to leave Southeast Asia in late November, James notes, and return to her San Diego homeport at the end of the year.