Damaged warship to head to San Diego for repairs: Navy

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 13, 2016 3:21 PM

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The USS Fort Worth, a U.S. warship that suffered damage to its combining gears in Singapore in January, will travel to San Diego under its own power for extensive repairs at a General Dynamics Corp shipyard, the U.S. Navy said Wednesday.

The new coastal warship, built by Lockheed Martin Corp, will use its gas turbine engines to travel to its homeport of San Diego this summer from Singapore, where it has been deployed since December 2014, the Navy's Pacific Fleet said in a statement.

The trip is expected to take about six weeks. The cost of the expected repairs to be carried out by General Dynamics at its NASCCO shipyard was not yet clear, a Navy spokesman said.

General Dynamics last year won a contract to perform maintenance of the Navy's two different types of Littoral Combat Ships, including the steel monohull version built by Lockheed.

The Navy last month removed Commander Michael Atwell as commander of the Fort Worth after an investigation into the Jan. 12 incident, which has been linked to crew error.

The issue occurred during an operational test of the ship's port and starboard main propulsion diesel engines, when a lack of lube oil triggered high-temperature alarms on both sets of gears, a Navy official has said.

Combining gears allow the Fort Worth to configure different types and combinations of engines for propulsion at sea. The ship left San Diego in November 2014 and was on a 16-month deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet.

The Navy said it decided to complete full repair of the combining gears in San Diego due to maintenance timelines, the efficiency of repairs and available docking space at the shipyard. Doing the repairs during a previously scheduled maintenance period would reduce the overall cost, it said.

The Navy's newest class of warships, which were designed to carry out a range of missions, including hunting for mines, submarines and surface warfare, have suffered a series of technical issues in recent years.

The accident occurred just weeks after Defense Secretary Ash Carter told Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to end orders of the LCS class ships at 40, instead of ordering 52 ships as previously planned.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Diane Craft and Jonathan Oatis)