U.S. Navy’s New Littoral Combat Ship Cracked Going Through in Panama Canal

USS Montgomery during sea trials. Photo: Austal USA
USS Montgomery during sea trials. Photo: Austal USA

The U.S. Navy’s newest littoral combat ship USS Montgomery has had its hull cracked for a second time after hitting a lock wall during a transit of the Panama Canal, the U.S. Navy has confirmed.

The latest incident occurred Saturday, Oct. 29 during southbound transit of the Panama Canal’s old locks on its way to its homeport in San Diego

According to a Navy statement obtained by USNI News: “Under control of the local Panama Canal Pilot, the ship impacted the center lock wall and sustained an 18-inch-long crack between her port quarter and transom plates,” Cmdr. Ryan Perry with U.S. 3rd Fleet said. “The crack is located 8-10 feet above the waterline and poses no water intrusion or stability risk.”

The Panama Canal Authority provide the following statement to gCaptain: 

The Panama Canal reports that the incident recorded by the USS Montgomery in the Pedro Miguel Locks did not affect its transit, and the ship completed its passage through the waterway. Since the Canal transferred to Panamanian administration on December 31, 1999, safe transit indicators have improved, increasing customer confidence as the waterway handles increasingly larger vessels. The Panama Canal incident rate is 0.1%, for nearly 14,000 transits per year.

The incident is actually the third involving the USS Montgomery since it was commissioned September 10.

On October 4, the Montgomery suffered about a foot-long crack above the waterline after it was hit by a tug as the ship sortied from Mayport, Florida ahead of Hurricane Matthew. Three weeks prior, the Montgomery had two unrelated engine casualties within a 24-hour period while in the Gulf of Mexico during a transit from Mobile, Alabama, to San Diego, which is what sent the vessel to Naval Station Mayport for repairs in the first place.

USNI News noted in September that the engine trouble was the fifth LCS casualty within the last year.

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.

At a length of 127.4 meters and beam of 31.6 meters, the USS Montgomery is small enough to fit into the Panama Canal’s old locks, which use mules and embarked Panama Canal ship pilots to make the transit.

The full statement from the U.S. Navy is below and provided by USNI News:

On Oct. 29 USS Montgomery (LCS-8) sustained damage to her hull while transiting Southbound through the Gatun and Pedro Miguel locks of the Panama Canal. Under control of the local Panama Canal Pilot, the ship impacted the center lock wall and sustained an 18-inch-long crack between her port quarter and transom plates. The crack is located 8-10 feet above the waterline and poses no water intrusion or stability risk.

The ship has continued her transit as scheduled, has now exited the Panama Canal and is expected to arrive at her new homeport of San Diego next month.