Wichita Suffers Propulsion Plant Failure

Credit: Dorian Mongel/ unsplash
  • The casualty was severe enough for the Naval Safety Command to classify as “Class A” Mishap.
  • The Wichita was launched in January 2019.
  • The Navy has had two afloat Class A mishaps in fiscal 2023, which began on Oct 1.

The littoral combat ship Wichita experienced a propulsion plant problem last month while returning from deployment, reported by Yahoo News. 

Severe casualty

However, Navy officials believe the mishap was not caused by the same combining gear issue that has plagued other Freedom-class LCS in recent years.

No one was injured in the Oct. 19 incident, and Naval Surface Force Atlantic officials declined to provide further details, citing an ongoing investigation into the cause.

However, the casualty was severe enough that the Naval Safety Command classified the incident as a “Class A” mishap, with damages exceeding $2.5 million.

Class A mishaps

The Wichita was launched in January 2019, just over four years ago.

According to a Navy release and SURFLANT spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Jason Fischer, the warship was able to return to its home port in Mayport, Florida.

Under its own power two days later, following a deployment to the US 4th Fleet, where it assisted in the interdiction of nearly 10,000 pounds of cocaine in the Caribbean Sea.

The battle in Congress to scrap littoral combat ships is far from over.

The Navy has had two afloat Class A mishaps in fiscal 2023, which began on Oct. 1.

Unknown malfunction

Six days after the Wichita incident, a SEAL Delivery Vehicle collided with an object during training.

While the cause of Wichita’s malfunction is unknown, Fischer said the command is “confident it wasn’t a combining gear issue.”

The Navy and industry partners are replacing faulty combining gear on the Freedom class of LCS to correct a propulsion issue.

Which caused multiple ships to break down and halted delivery of future vessels, even as the Big Navy seeks to get rid of its littoral combat ships to save money.

Defense bill

Officials say Wichita has yet to go through the combining gear repair process.

It is one of nine Freedom-class LCSs that Big Navy intends to decommission as part of its FY 2023 budget proposal, in the hope of freeing up funds for other purposes.

The full Congress has yet to agree on a final version of the defense policy bill, and it is unclear whether the Navy will be permitted to decommission so many new, expensive ships. 

However, the House version of the 2023 defense appropriations bill reduced the number of decommissioning’s from nine to four earlier this year.

The combining gear is a complex transmission that connects power from two large gas turbine engines and two main propulsion diesel engines to the propulsion shafts of the ship.

According to the Navy, the class-wide combining gear problem has resulted in limited top speeds for Freedom LCSs that have not received modifications, but ships are still operational.

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Source: Yahoo News



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