Littoral Combat Ship 'USS Freedom' Fit for Service
LCS 'USS Freedom; is moving ahead to meet its deployment schedule for next spring, says Surface Forces Commander
Some design problems persist, some fixes remain to be made, but overall, the littoral combat ship Freedom is moving ahead to meet its deployment schedule for next spring, the commander of the Navy’s surface forces proclaimed. “My assessment is the ship is sound, the engineering plant is good, combat systems are good,” said Vice Adm. Richard Hunt. “The ship rides very well.”
That verdict came after a three-day “special trial” conducted May 22-24 at San Diego by the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey, or INSURV. Nearly 200 people rode the ship — normally crewed by 40 sailors — to test the Freedom’s combat, communications and engineering systems; minutely examine the ship’s physical condition; and put the vessel through a series of ship-handling evolutions.
“There were some hiccups in the demonstration in some of the areas,” Hunt admitted, “and there are things that ought to be fixed on three, five and seven” — follow-on ships built to the Freedom (LCS 1) design. “But the things we identified [as problems] are fixable.”
The Freedom has spent much of the past eight months pierside or undergoing repairs in San Diego. A scheduled overhaul last fall was extended to address structural issues, and a new problem, a broken shaft seal that allowed water into the ship, emerged in early February as the ship was underway to test fixes. Another extended repair period followed to determine the cause of the broken seal and fix it. The ship didn’t get underway again until early May.
The Freedom is to begin a ten-month cruise to Singapore next year, tentatively set to begin in late March. The cruise will be the first overseas test of the LCS concept, which envisions forward-basing the ships in Singapore, the Arabian Gulf and elsewhere.