Crippled U.S. Littoral Ship to Sail Home From Asia for Repairs

  • Fort Worth's voyage to San Diego to take about six weeks
  • Vessel damaged by failure to apply lubricant to gears

The USS Fort Worth, a littoral combat ship crippled in Singapore since January after a botched maintenance procedure, will sail to San Diego for repairs this summer.

The ship, on a rotational deployment in Singapore since December 2014, will use its gas turbine engines to make the trip, the U.S. Pacific Fleet said in a statement. The voyage will take about six weeks, with fueling stops along the way.

The damage to the vessel on Jan. 12 was to combining gears that allow the ship to run on a mix of diesel and gas turbine engines. It appeared to have been caused by a failure to follow maintenance procedures by not supplying lubricating oil to the combining gears during start up of the main diesel engines, the Navy said in a January memo. Fort Worth is the third littoral combat ship deployed by the U.S. Navy.

The littoral combat ship program has been criticized amid concern that the vessels designed for shallow coastal waters may not be robust enough to survive an attack. The planned fleet has been cut to 40 from an initial 52, with Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and predecessor Chuck Hagel citing budget priorities and doubts about the strength of the ships. They are made in two versions by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Austal Ltd.

The Fort Worth was on a 16-month deployment to Asia as proof of the Navy’s “rebalance” to Asia, and its commander was relieved of his post after the incident. Littoral combat ships provide an important capability in the region and planning continues for future deployments, according to the Pacific Fleet statement.

The decision to complete full repair of Fort Worth’s combining gears in San Diego was based on several factors, including maintenance, timelines, efficiency of repairs, and shipyard capabilities, it said.

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