The littoral combat ship Freedom has been operating from Singapore since April. (US Navy)
WASHINGTON — The littoral combat ship Freedom remained in port at Singapore Friday to deal with yet another engineering problem — the latest in a string of relatively minor issues that have affected the ship over the course of a planned 10-month deployment.
The ship was sidelined earlier in the week by a seawater service piping rupture that affected both gas turbine engines. Repairs have been completed and both engines are back online, and on Thursday, the ship was preparing to get underway. That’s when, according to the Navy, the crew found seawater contamination in the starboard steerable waterjet hydraulic system.
“While Freedom could get underway and navigate safely with the port drive train, the commanding officer decided to remain in port to fix the starboard steerable waterjet hydraulic system,” said Lt. Cmdr. Clay Doss, spokesman for the Navy’s Logistics Group Western Pacific in Singapore. “Like the previous issue this week, there are no plans — and no need — to get underway until repairs are accomplished.”
Freedom had planned to conduct local operations around Singapore, and isn’t scheduled to take part in a significant exercise for another few weeks.
“I do not expect this problem to adversely affect Freedom’s operational schedule,” Doss said, “and the crew continues to make preparations for CARAT (Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training) Brunei in mid-November.”
The latest problem is a recurrence of an issue last experienced in 2011.
“This is not a major setback, and our technicians know how to fix it,” Doss said. “An initial assessment points to residual water that remained in the starboard steerable waterjet hydraulic system following replacement of its hydraulic oil cooler during a recently-completed maintenance availability.
“Though the system was flushed multiple times after installation of the new cooler, the residual water was found later during a series of pre-underway tests.”
Doss pointed out that the problem is not in the Rolls-Royce Kamewa waterjets — four of which are installed in the stern of the ship — but rather in the control system located several compartments farther forward.
He wouldn’t say when the problem would be fixed, but noted that, “technicians are working expeditiously to accomplish repairs — which involve draining the seawater out and restoring the system with new hydraulic oil — and will fully examine the problem.”
The Brunei exercises are the final significant event in the ship’s western Pacific deployment. Freedom is expected to return to its home port of San Diego in mid-December.