Another Navy Littoral combat ship breaks down, after only sixty days in service

The Independence-class LCS USS Montgomery during its commissioning ceremony in September. (Screenshot from video below)

Yet another of the US Navy’s new Littoral Combat Ships has broken down, with less than sixty days in service.

The Independence-class LCS USS Montgomery suffered an 18-inch hull fracture after striking an object as she passed through the Panama Canal.

The Montgomery was on her way back to her homeport of San Diego, California when she struck a center lock wall -a cement structure that is part of the canal- while she was under control of a local Panama Canal pilot, according to a statement from the US Navy.

“The crack is located 8-10 feet above the waterline and poses no water intrusion or stability risk,” the Navy said of the Montgomery’s condition.

The crack does not require immediate repair and the Montgomery is continuing home as scheduled. However, this incident is only one in what seems to be a string of bad luck for the $360 million warship, who was only just commissioned in September.

Since her commissioning, the Montgomery has had three separate incidents, including springing a leak after a collision with a tugboat and a saltwater leak into the ship’s hydraulic cooling system, which may have resulted in the loss of one of her engines on the same day.

The Montgomery is not alone: the entire LCS fleet has been plagued with breakdowns, failures leaks and other issues. In September, the Navy announced they would commit to a major overhaul of the LCS program, designating the first four ships as “testing only” vessels and limiting overseas deployments to “emergency-only.”

The announcement came shortly after the Navy revealed that other ships in the class -the Freedom, Coronado, Fort Worth and Milwaukee– had all suffered mechanical failures since they rolled out last December.

Lieutenant Kara Yingling told CNN that the new deployment plan is in no way a response to the mechanical failures, but a training measure.

“The review was a comprehensive look at maintenance, training, and manning across the class — not limited to one ship or one incident. As with any new ship class, the Navy constantly looks for ways to improve employment and deployment of its ships,” she said.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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