The commanding officer of Littoral Combat Ship USS Freedom (LCS-1) was relieved of his duties this week following an investigation into an incident that damaged the ship’s diesel engine in July, the Navy announced today.
Cmdr. Michael Wohnhaas, who commanded LCS Crew 106, was relieved “due to loss of confidence in his ability to effectively lead and carry out his assigned duties” on Oct. 13 by Commander of Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet (SURFPAC) Vice Adm. Tom Rowden.
The decision was made following an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the July 11 incident where Freedom’s number 2 main propulsion diesel engine was damaged.
The engine was damaged when “a leak from the attached seawater pump mechanical seal… resulted in seawater entering the engine lube oil system,” SURFPAC told USNI News in August. The ship returned to its San Diego homeport two days later for unrelated maintenance work and followed contamination procedures, and then returned to sea to participate in the Rim of the Pacific 2016 exercise while using its gas turbines for power instead of the main propulsion diesel engine. Only on Aug. 3 did a a Southwest Regional Maintenance Center diesel engine inspector discover “significant damage to the engine caused by rust and seawater,” SURFPAC spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Rebecca Haggard told USNI News in August.
“Based on initial assessments from the inspection, Freedom’s number two MPDE will need to be removed and rebuilt or replaced. The cost and timeline for the repair of the engine are unknown at this time,” she said then.
The Navy still has not made a final decision on how to repair Freedom following the engineering casualty, according to the Navy’s announcement today.
Wohnhaas has been temporarily re-assigned to Rowden’s staff, and deputy commodore of LCS Squadron One Capt. Matthew McGonigle will temporarily serve as Crew 106 commanding officer.