USS Freedom breaks down, but not going down

Stand down, Twitterverse, the littoral combat ship USS Freedom isn’t going down, flooding, or even leaking, really. But she’s not going anywhere, either. Ten days after arriving in Singapore for her maiden deployment, the Freedom is dead in the water, awaiting repairs to her propulsion system, according to Navy officials at Pacific Fleet in Hawaii. ...

JAY DIRECTO/AFP/Getty Images
JAY DIRECTO/AFP/Getty Images
JAY DIRECTO/AFP/Getty Images

Stand down, Twitterverse, the littoral combat ship USS Freedom isn't going down, flooding, or even leaking, really. But she's not going anywhere, either.

Ten days after arriving in Singapore for her maiden deployment, the Freedom is dead in the water, awaiting repairs to her propulsion system, according to Navy officials at Pacific Fleet in Hawaii.

A tweet on Monday caused a bit of alarm when it suggested the Freedom was taking on water.

Stand down, Twitterverse, the littoral combat ship USS Freedom isn’t going down, flooding, or even leaking, really. But she’s not going anywhere, either.

Ten days after arriving in Singapore for her maiden deployment, the Freedom is dead in the water, awaiting repairs to her propulsion system, according to Navy officials at Pacific Fleet in Hawaii.

A tweet on Monday caused a bit of alarm when it suggested the Freedom was taking on water.

"Over the weekend USS Freedom started taking in seawater, port side," wrote Raymond Pritchett, author of the maritime-focused blog Information Dissemination, known widely online as "Galrahn."

"They were seeing seawater where they shouldn’t see seawater," Lt. Anthony Falvo, spokesman for U.S. Pacific Fleet in Hawaii, explained to the E-Ring.

But hang on. The ship’s propulsion system is designed to bring seawater into the ship to cool lube oil and propulsion fluids. When the crew took some lube oil samples, they noticed seawater was getting into some of the lube oil, Falvo said.

"Basically what had happened was, there was some alarms that went off in the engineering spaces."

The problem affects the ships reduction gears, the E-Ring was told, which in English means seawater contaminated the lubricant for the drive shaft that spins the propeller. 

This problem is not unique to the Freedom or other LCS vessels. Other ships that use the same propulsion system have had similar problems. But given the eyes watching the LCS on her maiden voyage, the Navy wanted to get the word out quickly that the problem, while serious, was not taking down the ship.

"It’s not uncommon for some of these tubes to fail, from time to time," Falvo said. "The crew was never in danger."

Engineers on board in Singapore requested outside assistance from Commander Naval Surface Force Pacific headquarters in San Diego, which is responsible for maintenance of all Pacific-based ships. Officials there are reviewing the problem and deciding who to send to Singapore for the fix. Until then, the Freedom is unable to move.

PACFLEET said the Freedom likely will not fall off schedule because she has no upcoming events requiring her to sail immediately. 

 

Kevin Baron is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy, covering defense and military issues in Washington. He is also vice president of the Pentagon Press Association. Baron previously was a national security staff writer for National Journal, covering the "business of war." Prior to that, Baron worked in the resident daily Pentagon press corps as a reporter/photographer for Stars and Stripes. For three years with Stripes, Baron covered the building and traveled overseas extensively with the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, covering official visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Middle East and Europe, China, Japan and South Korea, in more than a dozen countries. From 2004 to 2009, Baron was the Boston Globe Washington bureau's investigative projects reporter, covering defense, international affairs, lobbying and other issues. Before that, he muckraked at the Center for Public Integrity. Baron has reported on assignment from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the South Pacific. He was won two Polk Awards, among other honors. He has a B.A. in international studies from the University of Richmond and M.A. in media and public affairs from George Washington University. Originally from Orlando, Fla., Baron has lived in the Washington area since 1998 and currently resides in Northern Virginia with his wife, three sons, and the family dog, The Edge. Twitter: @FPBaron

More from Foreign Policy

A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.
A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

Lessons for the Next War

Twelve experts weigh in on how to prevent, deter, and—if necessary—fight the next conflict.

An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It’s High Time to Prepare for Russia’s Collapse

Not planning for the possibility of disintegration betrays a dangerous lack of imagination.

An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.
An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.

Turkey Is Sending Cold War-Era Cluster Bombs to Ukraine

The artillery-fired cluster munitions could be lethal to Russian troops—and Ukrainian civilians.

A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol  January 8, 2009 in Washington.
A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol January 8, 2009 in Washington.

Congrats, You’re a Member of Congress. Now Listen Up.

Some brief foreign-policy advice for the newest members of the U.S. legislature.