USS Freedom breaks down, but not going down

Stand down, Twitterverse, the littoral combat ship USS Freedom isn't going down, flooding, or even leaking, really. But she's not going anywhere, either.

Ten days after arriving in Singapore for her maiden deployment, the Freedom is dead in the water, awaiting repairs to her propulsion system, according to Navy officials at Pacific Fleet in Hawaii.

A tweet on Monday caused a bit of alarm when it suggested the Freedom was taking on water.

"Over the weekend USS Freedom started taking in seawater, port side," wrote Raymond Pritchett, author of the maritime-focused blog Information Dissemination, known widely online as "Galrahn."

"They were seeing seawater where they shouldn't see seawater," Lt. Anthony Falvo, spokesman for U.S. Pacific Fleet in Hawaii, explained to the E-Ring.

But hang on. The ship's propulsion system is designed to bring seawater into the ship to cool lube oil and propulsion fluids. When the crew took some lube oil samples, they noticed seawater was getting into some of the lube oil, Falvo said.

"Basically what had happened was, there was some alarms that went off in the engineering spaces."

The problem affects the ships reduction gears, the E-Ring was told, which in English means seawater contaminated the lubricant for the drive shaft that spins the propeller. 

This problem is not unique to the Freedom or other LCS vessels. Other ships that use the same propulsion system have had similar problems. But given the eyes watching the LCS on her maiden voyage, the Navy wanted to get the word out quickly that the problem, while serious, was not taking down the ship.

"It's not uncommon for some of these tubes to fail, from time to time," Falvo said. "The crew was never in danger."

Engineers on board in Singapore requested outside assistance from Commander Naval Surface Force Pacific headquarters in San Diego, which is responsible for maintenance of all Pacific-based ships. Officials there are reviewing the problem and deciding who to send to Singapore for the fix. Until then, the Freedom is unable to move.

PACFLEET said the Freedom likely will not fall off schedule because she has no upcoming events requiring her to sail immediately.