CNO: First Combined Equipment Repair Completed on Freedom-Class LCS Minneapolis-Saint Paul

Minneapolis-Saint Paul (LCS-21) during acceptance testing in Lake Michigan in 2020. Lockheed Martin Photo

The Navy has completed and tested the first solution for the complicated gear system that plagued Freedom-class littoral combat ships, Chief of Naval Operations Mike Gilday told reporters on Wednesday.

In January, the Navy announced that it would not take delivery of the Freedom-class LCS built by Lockheed Martin until the class-wide issue with German manufacturer RENK’s under-designed suit equipment. AG is repaired. The gear connects the diesel engines and gas turbines of ships. Determination follows two high-profile USS propulsion failures Detroit (LCS-7) and USS Small stone (LCS-9). A total of 13 vessels required repair of the gears.

“We kept the industry’s feet firmly on the ground… We stopped delivering these ships until we got it right. LCS reliability is our number one priority for this class of vessel, ”said Gilday.
“We really forced the industry to go back to the drawing board when it comes to the fidelity of engineering work to do some important and rigorous testing ashore before approving the final design that has just been installed in the first ship. “

Navy officials said in August that Minneapolis-Saint-Paul (LCS-21) had completed the initial repair of the combination gear at Escanaba. Michigan, near Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Wisconsin.

“It’s a very complex solution to replace the bearings on the combine gear. It is a very small space. There is a lot of interference that needs to be removed, ”LCS Deputy Program Director Howard Berkof said in August.

The key to the Freedom Class’s top 40 knot speed is the gear system that combines the power of the ship’s Rolls Royce MT-30 gas turbines and its diesel engines. Without the gearing system functioning as intended, Freedom Class ships in service can only operate with one type of engine at a much lower speed.

With Minneapolis-Saint-Paul authorized to deliver to the Navy, Lockheed and RENK AG will continue to repair ships under construction at Marinette Marine – Cooperstown (LCS-23), Marinette (LCS-25), Nantucket (LCS-27) and Beloit (LCS-29). The last Freedom-class ship, Cleveland (LCS-31), will be fitted with fully patched suit gear, the Navy said.

It is not known how the Navy will adapt to the patch of eight Freedom-class LCSs with the RENK suit equipment already in service. The downgraded Freedom (LCS-1) and USS Fort worth (LCS-3) were designed with a different gear mechanism built by the American company Philadelphia Gear.

Moving forward, Gilday said the Freedom-class ships will go beyond their current missions in US Southern Command in the Middle East and Western Pacific.

“Our intention is to evolve LCS around the world and get the most out of this platform,” he said. “We are re-equipping these ships with important weapon systems. “

Gilday said the LCSs are being used as part of the Global 14 series of exercises currently underway at Naval War College in Newport, RI

“They definitely played positively in the game. I will say that the LCS was designed to operate in shallower waters around the archipelagos, ”he said. “And that’s exactly how they played in the game and we found them very useful.”

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