The Independence (LCS 2) leads the Freedom (LCS 1 ) while operating off San Diego on May 2. The Freedom is not yet ready for a major inspection, the Navy said. (Lt. Jan Shultis / U.S. Navy)
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A pre-inspection assessment last week of the first Littoral Combat Ship rated the Freedom a "no-go" to proceed to a more comprehensive inspection scheduled for later this month.
The ship's crew and contractors, said the senior inspector in an internal message, "were not prepared for the [pre-] inspection," and "were unfamiliar with the conduct of [Board of Inspection and Survey] material checks."
Half — 14 — of the inspected areas were rated "red," or no-go. Eight categories received yellow marks, while six were rated green, or go. One of the 29 rated areas was not demonstrated.
While the inspector noted that the ship's crew demonstrated "a good positive attitude" and was able to properly "self-assess," the internal message noted that, "safety programs aboard the ship are non-existent."
The Freedom has spent much of the past year undergoing an overhaul and a series of repairs, most notably a period in drydock in March and April to fix a broken shaft seal that resulted in minor flooding. The unscheduled repairs meant the crew had fewer opportunities to take their ship to sea.
"This is a process," Cmdr. Jason Salata, a Navy spokesman in San Diego, said of the inspections. "The crew has to prove to us they've met the requirements that they can proceed forward and conduct the material inspection with the Board of Inspection and Survey" — known throughout the Navy as INSURV.
The Type Commander Material Inspection (TMIT) reviews were instituted by the Naval Surface Force last summer, Salata said, to better prepare ships for INSURV inspections.
"We want to provide a maximum level of confidence in the ship's ability to conduct a material inspection," he said.
Since the TMITs were begun, Salata said, six of 11 ships — including the Freedom — received the "high risk/no-go" rating. Three were rated "medium risk" and only two ships were dubbed "ready to proceed."
The inspections for three of the high risk ships were rescheduled, while two successfully passed INSURVs.
Many of the degraded areas on the Freedom "are already in the process of being corrected," Salata said, and the TMI team is scheduled to go back on the ship later this week to assess its progress.
The Freedom's INSURV inspection currently is scheduled for May 22 to 24 at San Diego.
"There will be three underway rehearsals with Freedom before the INSURV," Salata said. "There's a bit of resiliency that needs to be put in there. That's why practice helps."
The TMIT review did not raise alarm bells for the director of surface warfare at the Pentagon.
"I think the results point to some of the uniqueness associated with LCS," Rear Adm. Thomas Rowden told reporters on a conference call Wednesday. "There are also contractor personnel to demonstrate [functions] as well as ship's force.
"I am fully confident the ship and contractors and Surface Force are going to address these issues," Rowden declared.
Rowden and Rear Adm. Jim Murdoch, program executive officer for the LCS program, spoke to reporters about recent developments with the LCS program.
The Independence (LCS 2) reached its new homeport of San Diego on May 2, joining up with the Freedom, while the Fort Worth (LCS 3) successfully completed acceptance trials on May 4 on Lake Michigan.
"We were very pleased to be able to present a complete ship," Murdoch said of the Fort Worth, built by Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisc., under prime contractor Lockheed Martin.
"We tested in the Great Lakes everything we could test," he said. "We demonstrated full power very smoothly. The number of trials cards" — major problem areas needing attention — "was reduced from over 50 on LCS 1 to less than 10 on LCS 3.
"We are very pleased with how LCS 3 is shaping up," Murdoch said.
"That the trial is such a success is just indicative of how we are moving forward with the program," declared Rowden.
Both officers were asked about repeated criticisms of the LCS program in the press and from some members of Congress.
"We are confident of the past successes on LCS," Rowden said. "The Navy routinely expects issues to arise from first-of-class ships. Repairs are made as required. This also allows us to incorporate changes in follow on ships and we're doing that.
"Sure there's criticism, and it kind of helps us sharpen what we need to do," he added.
"I expect a lot of criticism because we're different," Murdoch said. "We're modular. People say it isn't adequately defensible, but I think differently. … We can put things in the mission package without having to change the ship. That's a tough message for people to accept.
"I accept the criticism," Murdoch said. "I welcome it."
Text of the May 7 Type Commander Material Inspection report on the USS Freedom. Some edits have been made for clarity.
TYPE COMMANDER MATERIAL INSPECTION
R 071920Z MAY 12
FM COMNAVSURFPAC SAN DIEGO CA
TO USS FREEDOM
INFO COMPACFLT PEARL HARBOR HI
COMNAVSURFPAC SAN DIEGO CA
PRESINSURV VIRGINIA BEACH VA
COMLCSRON SAN DIEGO CA
MSGID/GENADMIN/COMNAVSURFPAC SAN DIEGO CA/0805/MAY//
SUBJ/TYCOM MATERIAL INSPECTION REPORT FOR USS FREEDOM (LCS 1)//
NARR/REF A IS INSURVINST 4730.1 SERIES, MATERIAL INSPECTIONS OF SURFACE SHIPS.
REF B IS INSURVINST 4730.3 SERIES, TRIALS OF SURFACE SHIPS.
REF C IS COMUSFLTFORCOMINST 4790.3 SERIES, JOINT FLEET MAINTENANCE MANUAL (VOL IV).
REF D IS INSURVINST 4730.11 SERIES, DOCUMENTATION OF DISCREPANCIES.
REF E IS OPNAVINST 5090.1 SERIES, ENVIRONMENTAL AND NATURAL RESOURCES PROGRAM MANUAL.
REF F IS OPNAVINST 5100.19 SERIES, NAVY SAFETY AND OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH (SOH)
INSPECTION AND CERTIFICATION PROCESS FOR OIL POLLUTION ABATEMENT (OPA) SYSTEMS IN U.S. NAVY SURFACE SHIPS AND CRAFT.
REF H IS CNSPINST 4730.2, TYCOM MATERIAL INSPECTION (TMI) PROCESS.//
POC/CANDELARIA, G.T./LCDR/UNIT:CNSP-N45/NAME:SAN DIEGO, CA
GENTEXT/REMARKS/1. A TMI WAS CONDUCTED ON USS FREEDOM (LCS 1) IN SAN DIEGO, CA FROM 3-5 MAY, 2012. THE TMI TEAM (TMIT) ASSESSES FREEDOM AS A HIGH RISK TO PASS THEIR SPECIAL TRIAL AND DOES NOT RECOMMEND THE SHIP PROCEED TO THEIR SCHEDULED SPECIAL TRIAL UNTIL THE SHIP COMPLETES A SATISFACTORY RE-DEMONSTRATION.
2. SENIOR INSPECTOR COMMENTS: USS FREEDOM (LCS 1) IS EVALUATED AS A "NO-GO" AND IS NOT RECOMMENDED TO PROCEED WITH THE SCHEDULED SPECIAL TRIAL (ST). FREEDOM'S CREW AND CONTRACTORS WERE NOT PREPARED FOR THE INSPECTION. BOTH ENTITIES WERE UNFAMILIAR WITH THE CONDUCT OF INSURV MATERIAL CHECKS. EXECUTION OF THE SOE WAS VERY POOR. THERE WAS CONFUSION BETWEEN CONTRACTOR AND CREW RESPONSIBILITIES FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF EQUIPMENT CHECKS. THE INSPECTION EXPERIENCE LEVEL FOR THE MAJORITY OF THE CREW IS LOW ALTHOUGH THEY DID DEMONSTRATE A GOOD POSITIVE ATTITUDE. THE CREW AND CONTRACTORS NEED TO CONTINUE TO FAMILIARIZE THEMSELVES WITH THE SHIP'S EQUIPMENT, OPERATIONAL PROCEDURES, IMPROVE IN PRESENTATION/DEMONSTRATIONS AND AGGRESSIVELY MANAGE/COORDINATE SOE. THE SHIP WAS CLEAN. SEVERAL AREAS REQUIRE PRESERVATION. SAFETY PROGRAMS ABOARD THE SHIP ARE NON-EXISTENT. THE SHIP DID DEMONSTRATE THE ABILITY TO SELF-ASSESS. HOWEVER, THEY ARE NOT AGGRESSIVELY REPORTING AND PURSUING RESOLUTION OF THE DEFICIENCIES THEY HAVE IDENTIFIED.
3. DEMONSTRATION RESULTS:
A. FULL POWER-RED
B. QUICK REVERSAL ASTERN-RED
C. QUICK REVERSAL AHEAD-RED
E. ANCHOR DROP-YELLOW
F. AFFF TEST-RED
G. SD DTE-YELLOW
H. LONG RANGE AIR SEARCH- GREEN
I. 57MM LIVE FIRE-GREEN
4. FUNCTIONAL AREA RESULTS:
C. INFO SYSTEMS-GREEN
I. MAIN PROPULSION-RED
J. DAMAGE CONTROL-RED
L. ENVIR PROTECTION-YELLOW
M. OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH-RED
R. ABILITY TO SELF-ASSESS-GREEN
S. 3M SPOTCHECKS-RED
T. ATIS DATABASE-NOT DEMONSTRATED