[Updated with new information from the Navy] After we posted our article on the electrical problem that left the USS Freedom “briefly” unable to navigate, the Navy provided us this detailed official explanation from Lt. Cdr. Clay Doss:

USS Freedom (LCS 1) returned to Changi Naval Base July 21 after experiencing a problem with the ship’s electrical plant that caused a temporary loss of propulsion the previous morning. Freedom restored propulsion and returned to port under her own power to accomplish repairs with available spare parts. At no time was the ship or crew in danger. The crew is now working with maintenance technicians in Singapore to accomplish repairs.

Freedom departed Changi Naval Base July 19 to participate in the at-sea phase of CARAT Singapore, which begins July 21 and continues through July 25. The ship lost propulsion briefly July 20 while making preparations for a vertical replenishment in support of CARAT Singapore. Freedom never lost power, the crew restored propulsion, and the ship completed the vertical replenishment.

Initial assessment on the loss of propulsion is that the NR2 Ship Service Diesel Generator (SSDG) overheated and shut down. The crew determined a turbocharger in NR2 SSDG had an exhaust leak and needs to be replaced. Turbochargers increase SSDG efficiency and power by forcing more air into the combustion chamber.

Freedom also experienced problems load shedding between online generators that will require further troubleshooting by maintenance technicians in Singapore.

Freedom’s commanding officer decided to return to port to accomplish repairs with available spare parts, and to allow the crew and maintenance technicians to continue troubleshooting the electrical plant as required.

While it is general policy not to discuss specific maintenance timelines or operational schedules, technicians are working quickly to repair the problem. If repairs are accomplished soon, Freedom will return to sea and join other U.S. Navy units in Combined Task Group 73.1 along with Republic of Singapore Navy ships to participate in the sea phase of CARAT Singapore.

The Navy deployed Freedom to Southeast Asia to work with regional navies and to put the ship through its paces in littoral waters several thousand miles away from homeport in San Diego. Despite challenges that are not uncommon for any U.S. Navy ship on deployment, let alone a ship that has never deployed overseas before, the Freedom crew continues to perform well as they capture valuable lessons learned that will inform follow-on rotational deployments as well as the LCS program.

Located in Singapore, the Navy’s Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific (CLWP) has extensive experience providing maintenance and logistics support to 7th Fleet units deployed in South and Southeast Asia. As Freedom is a first-of-class ship on a maiden deployment to Southeast Asia, the Navy expected supporting an LCS would require flexible and innovative approaches. We are confident that the right combination of technical assistance and logistics support are in theater now to address this issue.


[Updated] At 2:00 pm Wednesday, the Navy issued a second statement saying that Freedom was back underway:

-USS Freedom got underway to resume participation in the at-sea phase of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Singapore the afternoon of July 24 after accomplishing repairs to the ships electrical plant.  Freedom will join USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE 14), a U.S. Navy P-3 aircraft and several Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) ships in the most complex scenario of the exercise, featuring combined training in surface warfare, air defense and anti-submarine warfare.

-Initial assessment on the loss of propulsion was that the NR2 and NR3 SSDGs overheated and shut down.  Since arriving in Singapore July 21, the crew and maintenance technicians replaced turbochargers in NR2 and NR3 ship service diesel generators (SSDG).  Fuel oil delivery system components that also contributed to overheating and shutdown were replaced as well.  For example, the crew replaced worn fuel oil couplings, clogged fuel injectors and temperature sensors.


  • Don Bacon

    Gotta love that Navy PR.

    Despite challenges that are not uncommon for any U.S. Navy ship on deployment, let alone a ship that has never deployed overseas before, the Freedom crew continues to perform well

    Sounds like a brand-new ship fresh off the chocks, right? No.

    Freedom’s keel was laid down on 2 June 2005, by Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisconsin

    The USS Freedom was christened on 23 September 2006, delivered to the Navy on 18 September 2008, and commissioned in Milwaukee on 8 November.

    Prior to delivery, the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) conducted acceptance trials. INSURV found the ship to be “capable, well-built and inspection-ready” and recommended that the Chief of Naval Operations authorize delivery of the ship.

    On 12 June 2009, the Navy confirmed that CNO Roughead had ordered a study of an early deployment of Freedom, before the expected date of 2012.

    On 13 October 2009, the Department of Defense announced the Freedom would be deployed two years ahead of schedule.

    On 15 February 2010, Freedom set sail from Naval Station Mayport on its first deployment to support SOUTHCOM operations

    During a heavy-weather ocean trial in February 2011, the ship sprung a six-inch crack in its hull that leaked 5 gallons of water an hour. The problem appears to be due to faulty welds.

    On February 2012, Freedom suffered minor flooding while underway off Southern California.

    Mar 1, 2012 — The director of the Operational Testing and Evaluation office, summed up a year’s worth of trials for the Littoral Combat Ship.

    On 15 January 2013, the Defense Department’s director of operational test and evaluation released a judgement of the LCS in an annual study. The report said that the USS Freedom was “not expected to be survivable” in combat.

    Since arriving in Singapore on April 18, 2013, drifting part of the way, the list of distinguished visitors to tread the ship’s decks is impressive, and includes U.S. defense secretary Chuck Hagel; Navy Secretary Ray Mabus; Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations; Adm. Samuel Locklear, commander of U.S. Pacific Command; Vice Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet. The numerous foreign military and government visitors include Singapore defense minister Ng Eng Hen, and Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano, chief of staff of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force.

    They all disembarked safely, I’m told.

  • http://nickysworld.wordpress.com/ Nicky

    As I have said it many times over, the LCS is a disaster from the day it was drawn on a napkin. The LCS should have been canned and cut the moment the price tag started going up. It’s why Congress needs to grow a pair and tell the US Navy the LCS is getting canceled. The LCS is No frigate or a corvette. Even Corvette ship captains around the world are laughing at us and making jokes out of the LCS in the bar room & Wardrooms & staterooms. Which is why we need to cancel the LCS and move all the remaining LCS money into a high end Multi Role Frigate. Should make a deal with Spain, France or Germany for Multi Role Frigate designs and hire BIW to build them. If were stuck with the LCS, the only thing they should only be replacing is the Cyclone class PC & avenger class MCM. That’s why we need a High end Multi Role Frigate to Replace the Perry’s. If Admiral Greenert is so sure about the LCS is he willing to risk his kids in sailing the LCS into Harms way. Is he willing to allow his kids to work on the LCS. It’s why the LCS needs go and need to put down. It’s a joke and a huge waste of taxpayers money.

    • PolicyWonk

      Actually, I think the *concept* of LCS was sound. The building of generic ships with interchangeable mission packages is sound. A number of our allies thought so, too – there were a number of them that were very interested in LCS.

      However – the execution was dreadful, what the ship turned into compared to the concept(s) as originally stated became a shambles (to be generous). And apparently our allies that expressed interest agreed with the LCS’s many critics: they’ve ALL since walked away.

      • http://nickysworld.wordpress.com/ Nicky

        The LCS concept falls flat on it’s face. The LCS is still a disasters and a JOKE.

    • M&S

      The Armed Forces have a tendency to accept mandated change by doing such a lousy job of it that ‘never again’ (again-again-again…) is the resulting motto. This is particularly true of joint-service efforts meant to consolidate spending by forcing one-model-does-all uniformity.
      In this, the F-111 is the model for the JSF, as an overweight, useless at it’s primary mission figber aircraft which is so awful that it’s hard to see how it was intentionally made to be so on the basis of one name sharing three airframes which _purposefully_ split the inventory between incompatible basing modes ‘at shared cost’.
      I see the LCS as being the same thing in a surface combatant using a slightly varied strategy.
      The USN doesn’t -really- want it. So they make it so poorly (or cause it to be made so, dumping skilled workers and shifting line managers for things like welds and corcon on a weekly basis), that they cannot help but come up with an overpriced cabin cruiser rather than a warship.
      They are ‘subtle about it’ by making sure that the ship never radically departs across the board on systems or pricing and then they let the quality of their least-best effort speak for itself.
      As a limiter of last resort, they fob off correct weapons system by refusing to pay for the mission payloads so that even if the hull should be somehow fixable, there is nothing for it to accomplish as a mission platform
      Taking the heat for being incompetent dweebs then leaves them in peace to build the next multi-billion dollar Ford Class ‘like they really wanted, all along’.
      You’ll never hear of secret invitations by crews to come see all the flub uppery rusting out the insides of the CVN-78. People would go to prison for a long, long, time if they so much as dreamed about having such /anti-Navy/ thoughts.
      The Army does the exact opposite. Or did, with the FCS and now the GCV. Building an overvarianted, does-everything, gold plated, monument to system-of-systems program bloat as mission creep beyond all reason. And then pointing to it with the equivalent of “Look Mom! It only costs four times what I said it would!”
      That you can’t drive a 70 ton IFV _with less firepower than the Bradley_ onto a C-17 without a weight waiver should tell you a couple things:
      1. This is how you pay for the development of a new-gen MBT chassis and power pack without saying so world where ‘tank’ is passé to the point of vulgar.
      2. If they wanted something they intended to be bought, they wouldn’t have designed a MOUT-fight APC for a world in which the Congress is pretty much sure they won’t be doing another insurgency until 2 years after hell freezes over and the sun rises in the West.
      Again, make something that is a total kludge of design excess and let the critics scream about who in their right minds thought they were doing whatever as you busily craft the wartoyz you actually want.
      It’s the inverse of the Kennedy Theory (get things done by giving credit to someone else for doing them).
      “Oh, /that/ Army? I don’t work for -them-…”
      Until Congress wises up and forces the USN to fight a war with -exactly- the ship they ordered and not a penny more for fixes. Until they tell the combined services that they can have exactly as many planes as they can pay for with X dollars. And not a penny more for separate logistics, munitions or systems contracts ‘not mentioned as GFE’.
      Until they make the Army fight a war in a 70 ton street fighter that has a 30mm popgun.
      The Armed Forces will continue their little-boy psychology gaming.
      And we will pay for it.
      Of course, in the case of the LCS, we would also be inviting a U.S.S. Panay (appropriately ‘PR-5′) incident but hey, if they were important people’s kids, they wouldn’t be working for the Government, now would they?

  • KBHallSr

    This is what happens when you try and turn COTS into Military applications… cost over runs, failures, etc.

  • PolicyWonk

    It was reported today that the GAO has recommended suspension of the LCS program, until its many difficulties could be ironed out.

    Given the ever-changing answers/explanations offered by the navy in response to the programs critics, it is clear that the LCS “vision” needs to be fully flushed out before it proceeds any further.


  • M&S

    I am curious why a light frigate needs so much electrical capacitance. One would think they were designing a boat for DEWS or something (See: rumors of LAWS being integrated on the Mk.38 25mm mounts as a ‘secondary anti-boat’ option…).
    That said, most parts work on either total hours on-mount or total accumulated cycles as a function of idle-transient-max-transient-idle.
    And so I am also curious as to what it is about USN operations that makes commercial ships services systems, which are designed for minimal maintenance by small crews, so different in their utilization curves that they are being busted up on such a consistent basis.
    One of the nice things about commercial systems being that they are produced in large quantities to specs which carry across a range of ship class requirements and so tend to be higher quality for lower price than something which is limited lot produced by a lowest-bid contractor working on a shoe-string budget within a fixed price contract.
    The Freedom is toast, there is no doubt about it. The Independence is little better.
    But this is because frigate class hull displacements should have better than Cutter or Corvette styled weapons systems.
    This business with the constant breakdowns sounds more like engineering incompetence and the only thing to figure out is whether it is intentional by crew use or derivative of unworkable specs/unattainable TQM thresholds in fabrication or installation.

  • CAPT_Mike2

    This is unforgivable. My Navy has *lots* of experience w/ engines and generators, and also with the process of testing and evaluation of each.

    I quite understand the political and budget pressures in new ship development; we are supposed to have career technical professionals in NAVSEA to help make sure we don’t make stupid mistakes like this. Mark my words, this is mature technology, and the only reason to fail is either willful ignorance, or a deliberate choice to sacrifice reliability over (small dollars) cost.


    Captain, USNR (Retired)
    Submarine Force