WASHINGTON - The USS Fort Worth, a new coastal warship built by Lockheed Martin Corp for the U.S. Navy, suffered damage to its combining gears while the ship was in port in Singapore, the Navy said on Thursday, citing an apparent crew error.
The issue occurred during an operational test of the ship's port and starboard main propulsion diesel engines on Jan. 12 when a lack of lube oil triggered high temperature alarms on both sets of gears, according to a Navy official.
Technical experts and shipyard personnel were on board to evaluate the gears and make needed repairs, the Navy said in a statement released late Thursday. It was unclear when the repairs would be completed, it said in the statement.
Combining gears allow the Fort Worth to configure different types and combinations of engines for propulsion at sea. The ship left her homeport of San Diego in November 2014 and is now on a 16-month rotational deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet.
Lieutenant Commander Matt Knight, U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman, said problems involving watchstanding procedures were rare since crews were well-trained and familiar with the ship, one of two models of the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) class.
"We have the right resources in place to conduct the necessary inspections, determine the extent of the damage and required repairs, and return Fort Worth back to operational status," Knight said. "We are working diligently to minimize the operational impact of this maintenance casualty."
The incident comes after a spate of issues involving the Navy's newest class of warships, which were designed to carry out a range of missions, including hunting for mines, submarines and surface warfare.
The accident occurred just weeks after Defense Secretary Ash Carter told Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to truncate orders of the LCS class ships at 40, instead of ordering 52 ships as previously planned, a decision that Navy officials still hope to reverse.