The littoral combat ship Sioux City is laid up after air was found in the ship’s lube oil, which could affect engine cooling and raise the risk of overheating, Naval Surface Force Atlantic officials confirmed this week.

The problem was discovered Jan. 12 during routine maintenance aboard the ship, which was commissioned less than three years ago in November 2018.

Initially, the repairs were only expected to take a few days, but officials now say they don’t have a timeline for when Sioux City will once again be good to go.

The ship had been taking part in a pre-deployment exercise with the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group when the problems emerged, according to SURFLANT.

Sioux City sailors were stuck on the ship from the time the problem was discovered until the end of February due to the need to maintain a COVID-free bubble among the crew, according to SURFLANT spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Richlyn Ivey.

But in late February, the COVID vaccine was made available to the crew and a more normal in-port work schedule was established, Ivey said.

“Sailors were offered the opportunity to receive COVID-19 vaccine once it was determined that the scope of repairs would allow the Sailors to receive the full, 2-course COVID vaccine,” she said.

About 99 percent of the sailors assigned to Sioux City opted to get the voluntary vaccine, according to Ivey.

Sioux City’s gold crew returned from deployment to U.S. Southern Command in December and swapped out with the blue crew, which was getting ready for its own deployment.

The sidelining of Sioux City is the latest issue to bedevil the LCS community.

Repeated failures in the propulsion train of fellow Freedom-class LCSs Little Rock and Detroit have raised the specter in recent months that a class-wide design flaw may require reworking of the small surface combatants’ combining gear, part of the system that propels the ships via water jets, Defense News, a sister publication, reported in December.

Both ships suffered combining gear issues late last year, and the Detroit suffered a breakdown underway that force it to limp back to Florida.

That casualty was followed by an in-transit power failure that forced the ship to be towed back to port, Defense News reported.

Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at geoffz@militarytimes.com.

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