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Maintenance data helps US Navy guarantee LCS operational availability

USS Charleston (LCS 18) transits the Philippine Sea during routine operations for Destroyer Squadron 7. (US Navy)

The US Navy (USN) is using data analytics to “find and target” specific areas and systems that have previously caused Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs) to lose operational availability, according to Captain Tom Ogden, commodore of Destroyer Squadron 7 in Singapore.

“With the same amount of time committed to doing maintenance, we've increased the operational availability of the LCS in the Pacific, higher than we've ever seen it,” Capt Ogden said during an 18 October media roundtable briefing. “That's a data point we're looking at.”

He noted some of the analytics performed on LCS water jets as an example.

LCSs have a great deal of redundancy designed into the vessels, he said. “We have four independent water jets. The ships only need one of them to operate [but] you want to have all four.”

Water jets work like jet ski engines, he said. “It forces water through and there's a number of hydraulic systems involved. The steerable rams make the water jets move to port and starboard side. We've found there are a number of weak points in them. We've worked with the type commander – the weak points of those rams, we've sourced. We have those parts forward where those ships are going to be maintained.”

The navy has been able to put together work packages to replace the ram systems in significantly less time than it did previously, he added.

While the USN may not yet be able to ascertain when the rams are going to break down, Capt Ogden said, “We can see some early indications.”

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