Navy Finds Fix for LCS Power Woes

REFILE - CORRECTING SPELLING OF LOCATION WHERE PICTURE WAS TAKEN The future USS Freedom (LCS 1), the first ship in the U.S. Navy's new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) class, undergoes builder's trials on Lake Michigan near Marinette, Wisconsin in this picture taken July 28, 2008. LCS is a focused-mission ship designed to defeat threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft. The 378-foot future USS Freedom is being designed and built by a Lockheed Martin-led industry team. Picture taken July 28.   REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Lockheed-Martin/Handout   (UNITED STATES).  FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.
Navy officials told lawmakers recently that they are working on a permanent fix for the faulty generators aboard its newest combat ship.

Overheating generators became a high-profile headache for the Navy when the problem forced the USS Freedom to break off from an international exercise July 20 and return to base in Singapore for repairs. This is Freedom’s maiden voyage as one of two types of LCS class and represents the Navy’s priority modernization effort for years to come.

LCS technicians repaired the problem and the Freedom returned to the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training Singapore 2013 exercises July 24. Navy leaders downplayed the incident, describing it as a fairly common for a new class of ship on first deployment.

“I would be more concerned if we had [mechanical] casualties that were surprising us; that we didn’t have the right logistics support in place and we had big delays and we have not seen that,” Vice Admiral Richard Hunt, Navy Staff director, told members of the House Armed Services Thursday.

Hunt testified alongside Sean Stackley, assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, at the July 25 hearing to discuss a Government Accountability Office report that criticized the service for rushing procurement of LCS before conducting the operational test phase of the program.

Freedom is one of two LCS class variants. Lockheed Martin delivered the first mono-hulled Freedom variant in September 2008. General Dynamics makes the aluminum trimaran-hulled USS Independence variant, which was delivered in December 2009.

The Ship Service Diesel Generators aboard Freedom have been operating for 450 hours between failures instead at the program’s 800-hour requirement, Stackley said.

The problem requires design fixes to the governor and cooler mechanisms as well changes to the size of the piping the delivers coolant to the generator, Stackley said, adding that Lockheed Martin has fixes for all three issues, but they will “not all be incorporated into LCS 1 today, but they are all being incorporated into the follow ships of that variant.”

“The good news is the ship is designed with four diesel generators; it requires two plus one in standby,” Stackley said. “So there is redundancy in the system to overcome some of the shortfall in the operational availability.”

About the Author

Matt Cox
Matthew Cox is a reporter at Military.com. He can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.
  • Nicky

    As far as the LCS, no amount of Fix or Lipstick in the Universe can fix the LCS problem. The LCS should have been canceled and put down a long, long, long, long time ago. It’s a Ship that needs to be put down for it’s own good because as it is, is going to put people’s lives in danger. The LCS is a JOKE and nowhere near a Corvette or a Frigate. Even Corvette ship captains around the world are laughing at the LCS and are making sick jokes in the Bar room and wardroom.

    • Moose

      Yes, how dare our new minsweeper/drone mothership not be a Frigate. If there’s one thing that will keep those mines and diesel subs at bay, its harpoon missiles.

    • Vaughn McCall

      If one has a better idea propose it, all those armchair warriors give me a pain. If you have a better idea remember the ORD (operational requirements document) that’s what the Program Office is working towards, and of course your comments have placed the integrity of all those who were involved with the initial trials and testing.
      Vaughn

      • tiger

        Well step one is to go to Europe. Blohm & Voss, the Swedes & other yards have built FAC’s & Corvettes for decades. They have designs off the shelf & quality builders. General Dynamics & Lockheed Martin have delivered a over budget, poorly built, under manned, weakly armed ships. The USN has been clueless about small vessel design back to the PT program.

        • blight_

          The problem is we have no clue what we want.

          We want a small boat that can go fast and carry big payloads (the modules), and use those big payloads to augment ship flexibility.

          I propose a swiss army knife where there is one blade, plus a modular blade that takes two weeks to change out…we can put swiss army knives all over the planet, plus extra knives to change out with a two week lead time.

        • USS ENTERPRISE

          I dunno about that PT program. Did it create a vessel that was armed, and worked? I think so.

          The problem with the LCS is that it isn’t armed well enough. Thats it.

          Yet you all rag on everything that these companies build like as if they can’t even float.

    • Joe T
  • Lance

    Scrap this boondoggle get more for a DDG-1000.

    • Jeff
      • JD*

        The Coast Guard could never afford to fuel and maintain them.

    • tiger

      The DDG-1000 does not fit the mission needs.

  • Adm

    Something tells me the taxpayers are paying for all of the contractors FUs.

    • Belesari

      The contractors can’t really be held as the blame. They had ships planned and while they were being built the Navy would change things over and over this lead to massive problems everywhere.

      • Russell Romick

        So you are implying the contractors should have no accountability at all. It is not their responsibility to tell the government hey this or that change may not be a good idea. And just “sure we can do that” and give us our money and we’ll will fix them anytime they break down. They obviously told the Navy they could work this or that need into it so where the hell is their accountability? That is a stupid idea. They Navy Procurement office should be cleaned out and have much more oversight with experts from every field on the board.

        • oblatt1

          When the mafia buys a judge do we go after the mafia or abolish the judiciary – ask the mafia or contractors and they would.

          • Dfens

            What I think is funny is how easy it is for everyone to get on board with the stupid ass conspiracy theory that all these procurement people are out to screw the US taxpayer. Of course, when it comes to the obvious fact that the contractor, who makes at least $1.10 for every $1.00 they spend, couldn’t possibly be jacking us around because even though the financial incentive is there for them to do so, they’re clearly too “patriotic” to take advantage of that little conflict of interest. What a joke!

    • PolicyWonk

      Lamentably, this isn’t all about the contractors FU’s. This is about what the LCS was initially conceived to be, versus what it since *became*.

      The navy wanted something simple that could be used to defend against small swarms of speedboats in the (for example) Straits of Hormuz, against USS Cole kinds of disasters. Instead, they built what is now called LCS, which is (tragically) laughably under-armed, under armored, and seemingly takes zero of the hard-learned lessons of fighting in the littorals from WW2.

      And by the way – its unbelievably expensive ($400M per sea-frame).

      Our allies (and potential adversaries) have built full military hulls in the same weight class (and less!) for far less money, even with “mission packages”, that are far better armed and able to protect themselves.

      If all the navy wanted to do was protect itself against swarms of speed-boats and pirates – then the PC’s (which are almost as heavily armed as the LCS) are far cheaper and better suited for the mission the LCS was supposedly designed for.

  • Ron

    Damn sounds like my power stroke 6.0 issue, replace the turbo,EGR cooler and valve, oil cooler I sure hope those Diesel engines does not comply with emission control.

  • hibeam

    Navy Finds Fix for LCS Power Woes. That would certainly explain the oarlocks.

    • RunningBear

      :D

    • tiger

      You finally made me laugh…..

    • Rob

      hahahahahahaha

  • Big-Dean

    I’ve got the fix for the “power problems”, tie it up the pier and connect shore power! hahahahaha

    • Tad

      This is about the only mission we’ll see the LCS perform effectively!

    • Tony

      You need extra long cables to maneuver the ship in battle though.

  • blight_

    I assume these were tested by the vendor and shown as capable of meeting specs before putting them in? And not the vendor giving junk to the United States government?

  • Rick

    Well, im glad it’s fixed, weather it was because it needed it, or for buying time.

  • gk miller

    The only thing more dangerous than a spy is the DOD. Please save us from the U.S. Generals and Admirals in Washington. The downward spiral continues.

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      The major problem is the people in the dome shaped building, and the building that is supposedly White.

  • Thinto

    Over & Over & Over Again, just sign blank checks to the Defense Contractors, and the DC’s just fill our Catfish Politicians Pockets. The Sun is setting quickly on our once great country, our traitors are on the hill.

  • Tad

    Wow. Now maybe they’ll come up with a mission it can actually do. I mean, the most recent report on the LCS from the Navy admitted that the LCS is not survivable in combat, it must have protection from a fleet, whereas their original plan for the ship was that it would operate in littoral waters under threat of shore attack and coastal patrol boat attack.

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      Might have something to do with John Paul Jones……..

      • USS ENTERPRISE

        Whoops. Wrong reply. Disregard!

  • brownie

    Is the USN allergic to working with the British to design a new frigate?

    • burnzy

      That’s not such bad idea really. I mean it’s incredibly unlikely one(read never), which kinda sucks. The SeaCeptor missile system alone that the Brit’s have would be a great asset to the ship. It’s radar agnostic, works with the mk 41, has soft launch, economical, and would be a damn sight better than the griffin missile or the SeaRam.

      • d. kellogg

        Well, the LCS ships DO have a lot of European-designed bits in their construction, everything from guns to sensors and electronics and engine components.
        And wait, isn’t one design based off an originally-Australian trimaran configuration?

    • tiger

      Historically yes….. The USN has always had problems with designing things smaller than Destroyers. From River gunboats for China in the 1920’s to the PHM’s of the 1980’s.

    • Nicky

      It wouldn’t be a bad idea if the US Navy got in on the British Navy’s Global Combat ship. It would be a trade for the Brits for taking the F-35 in return we take some of their Global combat ship as well.

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      Might have something to do with John Paul Jones…..

      • d. kellogg

        Here’s hoping none of the hoped-for 50-odd ships of this class, not 1 is ever named USS Panay
        :-/

  • blight_

    Let’s just acknowledge that mines will be with us FOREVER, and that we need a ship exclusively designed for it; not just trusting to the operation of drones from a special drone mothership that will simultaneously be thrown into littoral combat, perhaps close to the shoreline.

    At the moment, asides from mines…what’s the BS mission being given to the LCS? Actual littoral combat? That’s okay, we have a surface warfare module that’s an extra deck gun…ooh, scary!

  • Jeff

    This is the result of allowing our commercial maritime industry to go the way of the dodo bird. Now all we have to fall back on is overpriced pork gobbling, defense contractors.

  • hibeam

    Navy Finds Fix for LCS Power Woes. Full Steam Ahead is now No Steam Ahead.

    • d. kellogg

      Give it time, someone will re-invent the steam powerplant for these ships and claim its superiority over all things non-nuclear.

  • Dfens

    The LCS costs more than an Iowa Class battleship, buy hell, let’s never go back to the US Navy designing their own ships. We enjoy being screwed by government contractors way too much to go back to that approach.

    • thedude123

      An Iowa class battleship costs around $1.35bn in current dollars ($100mil in 1943). The LCS is roughly half that. Relatively expensive, but nowhere near more than an Iowa.

  • George GSM1

    DDG-52 Plankowner notes that the Inlet filters would get only halfway dirty and the turbine and the cooling fan would both fight for air causing the whole module to heave when it was trying to suck air from the space. All programs have their issues. The Burkes were no different as well these LCS ship will do as well.

  • Logistician

    I’d be interested to know whether the govt was willing to pay for the cost of developing a Failure Modes Effects amd Criticality Analysis (FMECA), or if they did, was it funded to the level necessary to be of any real use. This document aline would have helped to keep the LCS poerside until the truly needed design would have been put into place.
    If anybody reading this has a copy, and wants a professional assessment of the document for content, detail, and quality, feel free to contact me.

  • Logistician
  • Gary Walker

    Did we not already learn Aluminum is not good material for combat ships! Remember the Falklands and the British ships hit by the Exocet’s. Part of there problem was that there aluminum hulls actually caught fire
    . This is why we sold them to the Brits in the first place.

    • shipfixr

      Sold what to the Brits??

  • OMEGATALON

    Maybe the US Navy needs to hire a third party Marine company to come in and do an inspection of the Freedom to see why there are so many issues as I suspect part of the issues is due to poor maintenance training of the crew who might not really understand the hardware because Freedom integrates a lot of leading edge marine technology as Lockheed Martin might need to develop things like iPad Apps to teach crew members on how to maintain specific components and systems within the ship.

    • tiger

      This is crap that goes back to the yard. The Navy inspectors signed off on everything before commissioning. As for the crew? What is so cutting edge about a generator?

  • hibeam

    Engine room make turns for zero knots. Aye aye capin!

  • Joseph Senko

    They really need to get rid of that tiny pea shooter. looks sad. Dropping the load (power loss) was not uncommon. I served aboard the USS Ingraham DD-694. We dropped the load at least once a month. We blamed it on the MMs (machinist mates). Semper Paratus

  • merlin1358

    Who came up with the 800 hours between failures? I design marine power plants and that is pathetic, should be a minimum of 5000 hours with some of our units going over 10,000 hours only stopping for routine maintenance like oil and filter changes. I guess they had to drop the hours so the LCSs would have a chance to make a milestone.

  • Rob C.

    Freedom is still the prototype of her Class, I just hope that its problems are unique to it. Not cross the board flaw in equipment their buying for the Freedom Class. Ship built on the less expensive should be built with cheap equipment.

    I’m not supporter of the what has come out of the LCS programs, but US Sailors are stuck with them. I just hope they can make them functional enough to do Something. I seriously don’t think their going be able fill the role of the Avenger Class MCMs or defunct Osprey Classes in Counter Mine role.

  • sapper740

    I work as an Electrical/Mechanical Tech at a shore based data center. We have 3 X 1.8MW and 1 X 2.0 MW stand-by generators supplied by Caterpillar. The three smaller generators are all 20+ years old and all have 1000+ hours on them, the larger is a recent addition. We have had no failures, the only issue which was caught and repaired before it became a problem was Current Transformers, necessary for paralleling generators, were having their casings crack from vibration. I find it hard to believe that the LCS’s generators were designed with too small coolant pipes when “over-design” is the watchword for such important systems, whether on shore or at sea.

    • d. kellogg

      Please remember: these ships seem more designed by committee led by
      ooooh-aaah powerpoint snake oil salesmen,
      than by competent engineers.

      A case of Murphy’s Law At Sea, these ships have shown what NOT to do in designing a naval vessel: seriously, corrosion issues at a time when we’ve been designing metal ocean-going ships for a century and a half???
      A gunnery system that STILL has issues actually hitting a target at any true combat-environment distances and sea conditions???

      I bet if they made these out of wood, they’d have picked the wrong kind of trees to do it.

      • blight_

        USS Constitution vs LCS Freedom…!

        • D
        • D
        • D
  • ken badoian

    Tech support in Singapore ??? A trail of contractors and tech reps across the Pacific.Remember old salts a ship called a tender or repair. We have some Destroyer Tenders in mothballs. Why not one stationed in Singapore? Cut the civilian cord. A what about the two crew concept. Stupid, Stupid, Stupid, no ownership, wait for the turnover, it’s not really my ship the other crew will fix it, etc. Just home port a squadron of the Little Crappy Ships overseas w/o dependents, add a tender, and BINGO, a some what functional warship squadron. OH yea now for some firepower, modules that work, maybe a bigger crew, and some amour plate. Yup that would be a fix… less money and more productive. But doing those items would kill L/M’s cash cow. Build it and contractor support it for it’s life time. I understand some carriers should have contractor berthing and messing. MMCS(SW)(SS) USN Ret.

  • DEUSR

    There is no on-board maintenance–or VERY little. Most PMS is done by shipyards in 30-day maintenance availabilities. The ship has a crew of 40. That’s barely enough to set a wartime steaming watch!

  • Big-Dean

    I hear good things about the modules being readied now for installation and “testing”

    First up is the “Let’s get a clue-we’re not a warship” module This module only costs 50 million, it’s detachment is only 30 people and it only requires 45 days to install during a full dry dock. It’s mission is to “observe, report, and run away”

    Next is the “when I grow up I want to be a real warship” module. This one cost a mere 45 million and it’s detachment is one signalman who will wave the white flag at the appropriate time. This module only take 7 days to install

    Last but not least is the most promising module of all, it’s called the “Sir Robin” module. At the appropriate time it plays this song through loud speakers directly a t the enemy “Brave Brave Sir LCS, bore forth from Signapore, we were not afraid to die, brave brave LCS….. BYW, this module was free courtesy of Lockhead

  • Rick

    LIke all new ships and concepts, There are some problems, but the larger issue is that MOST navy folks do not want a small ship. Look at how FFGs were used, how the PHMs were used and how little we hear of the PCs. Navy is wedded to the CVs even though the SSGN proves to be a much more efficient means of delivery force.

    • blight_

      Is it?

      An SSGN can throw 154 TLAM’s at a target (perhaps more, perhaps less in practice?)

      A DDG’s throw weight is 90, a CG’s is 100+. But how many airstrikes can a carrier conduct? Granted, one requires less planning due to the reduced risk to human life and the lower cost of cruise missiles…unless you meant cost, in which case hanging out offshore with VLS tubes is indeed cheaper than a 5,000 crewman CVN that will at most launch 70-80 aircraft.