The U.S. Navy’s newest littoral combat ship USS Montgomery has suffered a crack in its aluminum hull after being hit by a tug as the ship sortied from Mayport, Florida ahead of Hurricane Matthew.
The incident occurred October 4 and was first reported by Navy Times, which obtained the following statement from the Navy:
“USS Montgomery (LCS 8) sustained a crack to its hull while getting underway from Naval Station Mayport under orders to sortie Oct. 4. This crack resulted in minor seawater intrusion, but was contained by the crew. An investigation into possible causes is underway, and the ship will receive more permanent repairs upon her return to port.”
Citing another report, the Navy Times said Tuesday’s incident opened up a foot-long crack amidships along a weld seam about three feet above the waterline. The water ingress was reported to be about a gallon of water every three minutes, the Navy Times said. Five of the ship’s horizontal beams in the hull, called stringers, were also bent.
“As the ship was departing the [Mayport] basin, pilot requested tugs come along the starboard side to push Montgomery further from the quay wall and the aft landed hard on the starboard side,” the report said, according to Navy Times.
The ship did not need to return to port.
The incident comes about three weeks after the USS Montgomery, which was only christened Sept. 10, suffered two unrelated engine casualties within a 24-hour period while in the Gulf of Mexico during a transit from Mobile, Alabama, to her homeport of San Diego. The casualties are what sent the vessel to Naval Station Mayport for repairs.
“The first casualty happened when the crew detected a seawater leak in the hydraulic cooling system,” the Navy said in a statement Sept. 19. “Later that day, Montgomery experienced a casualty to one of its gas turbine engines.
“The built-in redundancy of the ship’s propulsion plant allows these ships to operate with multiple engine configurations. However, with the two casualties resulting in the loss of both port shafts, it was determined the best course of action would be to send the ship to Mayport to conduct both repairs,” the Navy statement added.
USNI News noted in September that the engine trouble was the fifth LCS casualty within the last year. The high number of casualties, mostly engineering-related, forced the Navy to order an “engineering stand down” for all LCS crews in order to review procedures and standards.
The Navy also announced Sept. 8 that it will implement several key changes to the projected 28-ship littoral combat ship (LCS) program that the Navy says will simplify crewing, stabilize testing and increase overseas deployment presence availability. Among the changes, the Navy will repurpose the first four LCS ships (LCS 1-4) to be single-crewed testing ships used mostly for training purposes.
The USS Montgomery is the fourth ship in the Navy’s Independence variant of the LCS, featuring an all-aluminum trimaran hull and built by Austal USA.