The Navy’s newest combat ship, the USS Milwaukee, needed a tow after a systems failure left the latest pride of the Navy dead in the water about 40 nautical miles offshore of Virginia. News of the Milwaukee tow comes after critics said that the $437 million ship still hadn’t met expectations at the time it was commissioned by the Navy last month.
The Milwaukee had metal filings in its lubrication oil, but how those filings got there is still unknown. This caused the ship to suffer a “complete loss of propulsion,” basically rendering this floating ship built with today’s top technology stuck at sea. The USS Milwaukee was put in the water less than three weeks ago, according to Yahoo News on December 14.
In the event of an engineering casualty, which is what the Milwaukee suffered on Friday, the redundant systems that are built into the Navy ships enables continued operation. This didn’t happen, raising serious concerns over the ship that was left disabled out at sea, according to Stars and Stripes News on December 12.
The ship was towed into a port in Virginia, which was the closest military port to the broken down vessel at the time it needed the tow. The Milwaukee was commissioned in its namesake city back in November. After leaving Milwaukee via the Great Lakes to Halifax, the ship was in the process of making its way to Florida.
The Sunshine State is where the transport crew was to leave the ship and another crew was to board this newest piece of floating technology. Now that switching of the crew is taking place in Virginia where the Milwaukee limped into port on the end of a towline. The new crew will hop aboard as the ship is being repaired.
The Navy wants 52 of these new ships that have interchangeable modules on the vessels that are supposed to make the ships more versatile. Instead of having one ship for one type of mission and another ship set up for a different operation, these new ships are tailored with these modules, so once changed they can be used for a specific purpose such as “mine-sweeping or hunting submarines.”
Stars and Strips reports that “the original goal was to be able to change the modules in 72 hours,” but that wasn’t the easiest of feats. While testing the module change, this “plug and play” concept wasn’t working, reports Dakota Wood, who is the senior research fellow for defense programs at the Heritage Foundation. The Foundation is a conservative think tank out of Washington, D.C.
According to Stars and Strips, “Defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp., through Marinette, has delivered three of the ships to the Navy: USS Freedom, USS Fort Worth and the USS Milwaukee. Six more of the warships are in various stages of construction in Marinette, while a different version is being built in Mobile, Ala. Altogether, the U.S. Navy wants 52 of the vessels, and foreign navies have shown interest in purchasing them as well.”