The USS Milwaukee broke down at sea Friday and had to be towed back to a Navy shipyard in Virginia for repairs. The Navy’s new $362 million ship needed to be towed more than 40 nautical miles to a base in Virginia after the suffering an technical casualty in engineering, according to The Fiscal Times.
The USS Milwaukee, the Navy’s littoral combat ship, had to be towed to Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek. The ship was placed in active duty as recently as November 21.
Speaking of his crew shortly before the commissioning ceremony, the ship’s commander, Mark Haney said “they are truly unstoppable.” “No matter what is thrown in their way, they find a way to succeed,” Haney said.
Officials said the USS Milwaukee was towed because metal debris had collected in the lube oil filter, causing the system to shut down. The ship was on its way to Mayport, Florida from Halifax, Canada.
The advanced technical vessel is a Freedom-class littoral combat ship of the United States Navy, and is the fifth ship to be named for the city of Milwaukee, the largest city in Wisconsin. It was built by Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisconsin.
The USS Milwaukee completed all acceptance trials and has improved systems as well as mission modules compared to USS Freedom and USS Independence, the first two Littoral Combat Ships. Her keel was laid down on 27 October 2011.
Lockheed VP Joe North has said that starting with the Navy’s Milwaukee, the Lockheed LCS design is “done, locked and stable”. This is after thirty or so changes from USS Fort Worth on top of hundreds of changes from USS Freedom. One of the improvements for Milwaukee are specially designed waterjets that replace the commercial versions used on previous Littoral Combat Ships, and ironically, has the ability to tow other ships.
Over the 2015 Labor Day weekend holiday, it was reported that the vessel generated waves greater than five feet tall during test runs near Door County’s Chambers Island which damaged more than 40 boats.
“Reporting of a complete loss of propulsion on USS Milwaukee is deeply alarming, particularly given this ship was commissioned just 20 days ago,” said U.S. Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “U.S. Navy ships are built with redundant systems to enable continued operation in the event of an engineering casualty, which makes this incident very concerning. I expect the Navy to conduct a thorough investigation into the root causes of this failure, hold individuals accountable as appropriate, and keep the Senate Armed Services Committee informed.”
Critics have also charged that the Milwaukee and other new littoral combat ships have not shown the ability to quickly swap out combat modules for missions as promised.
The USS Milwaukee will change crews while the ship’s system is being repaired. The ship was was on its way to its home port of San Diego.