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US Navy looks to tackle LCS reliability and sustainability

Seeking to integrate its Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs) into the overall fleet, the US Navy (USN) is working towards solving issues with LCS reliability and sustainability, said Admiral Michael Gilday, chief of naval operations (CNO), during a media roundtable hosted by the Defense Writers Group on 5 April.

To get those issues under control, the USN is focusing on fixing combining-gear problems on some LCS models while establishing a more sailor-centric maintenance model for the overall LCS fleet, said Adm Gilday.

In January, the USN confirmed that it had determined a propulsion system combining gear material defect on the Freedom LCS variant to be a latent defect-design issue.

The navy and Lockheed Martin, Freedom-class LCS manufacturer team lead, along with RENK AG, the original equipment manufacturer, conducted a root cause analysis (RCA) and determined that a class design defect exists with the high-speed clutch bearings.

A design fix had been developed and was in production, the USN noted in January. Any fix, the service said, would be installed and tested on new construction ships prior to the navy taking deliveries of those ships. Measures were implemented to mitigate risk to the in-service Freedom-variant ships while the navy took additional steps to correct the deficiency and minimise operational impacts.

β€œWe’re focused now on the combining gear,” Adm Gilday said on 5 April, adding that the service is looking to start shore-based testing on a redesign later this month.

β€œThe navy will not accept any delivery of LCS until the issue is fixed,” he said. β€œWe need the LCS to be reliable and sustainable at sea.”

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