Littoral Combat Ship ( ) USS Freedom is in need of yet another set of repairs in order to leave its Singapore pier and get to sea, U.S. Navy officials say.
The ship has been plagued by problems during its first Western Pacific deployment.
Speaking Nov. 11 about the most recent incident, Lt. Cmdr. Clayton Doss says that “while USS Freedom was pierside in Singapore on Nov. 10 conducting steering checks in preparation for the next day’s underway, the port steerable waterjet feedback cable stopped sending signals to indicate the waterjet’s position. Until repairs are accomplished, the crew cannot steer the port waterjet remotely from the bridge.”
“These checks were conducted two days earlier without any issues,” he says. “The system appeared to be working properly up until this problem occurred. The ship has requested technical assistance to replace the damaged feedback cable.”
He adds that while Freedom could get underway with the starboard drive train, there are no plans to do so until repairs are accomplished.
“This problem is unrelated to the water intrusion that affected the starboard steerable waterjet hydraulic system last month,” Doss says. “That system was repaired and the starboard drive train is fully operational.”
The Freedom was pierside in Singapore Oct. 24 making preparations to get underway when the crew found “seawater contamination in the starboard steerable waterjet hydraulic system,” Doss says.
The Oct. 24 problem, Doss says, was unrelated to the seawater service piping rupture that affected both gas turbine engines earlier that week.
Unlike most U.S. Navy ships, which use rudders and propellers, Freedom has two independent drive trains that consist of a steerable-reversible waterjet and a boost jet for higher speeds, Doss says.
“In each drive train, a feedback cable connects the steerable-reversible waterjet to the waterjet control system. Based on physical monitoring of the waterjet’s directional flow of high-pressure water, the feedback cable sends signals to a waterjet position indicator located on the bridge,” Doss says. “If the indicator is not functioning properly, bridge watchstanders cannot tell whether the waterjet is responding to steering commands. Though less optimal, manual steering control is possible at a local control panel.”
Although maintenance issues can sometimes cause unpredictable schedule slips, Doss says, “we are confident that the right combination of technical assistance, maintenance and parts support are in theater now to address this issue.”
He says he cannot discuss specific maintenance timelines or operational schedules, but technicians are working quickly to repair the problem and Freedom continues to prepare for scheduled regional exercise events.
Freedom also has suffered from other problems, including power outages, while on the deployment.