Home » Budget Industry » Littoral Combat Ship USS Montgomery Damaged Transiting Panama Canal


Littoral Combat Ship USS Montgomery Damaged Transiting Panama Canal

USS Montgomery (LCS-8) during sea trials. Austal USA Photo

USS Montgomery (LCS-8) during sea trials. Austal USA Photo

The Littoral Combat Ship USS Montgomery (LCS-8) suffered damage during a transit through the Panama Canal on its way to its new homeport in San Diego, Calif., USNI News has learned.

Montgomery, was crossing from the Atlantic to the Pacific when the LCS collided with one of the walls of the lock and suffered damage to the hull on Oct. 29, Cmdr. Ryan Perry with U.S. 3rd Fleet told USNI News on Monday.

“Under control of the local Panama Canal Pilot, the ship impacted the center lock wall and sustained an 18-inch-long crack between her port quarter and transom plates,” Perry said.
“The crack is located 8-10 feet above the waterline and poses no water intrusion or stability risk.”

The ship is now on the Pacific side of the canal heading to its new homeport.

Damage through the canal transit is the third incident to occur to Montgomery since the ship commissioned in September.

Days after its commissioning, the Austal USA-built Montgomery suffered two separate engineering casualties on Sept. 13 on its first intended transit of the Panama Canal.

“The first casualty happened when the crew detected a seawater leak in the hydraulic cooling system. Later that day, Montgomery experienced a casualty to one of its gas turbine engines,” read a September statement.
Then on Oct. 4, when the ship was scrambling from Naval Station Mayport, Fla. to avoid the path of Hurricane Matthew, the ship “took a hard knock from a tug,” according to a report in Navy Times.

The following is the complete Oct. 31, 2016 statement from U.S. 3rd Fleet

On Oct. 29 USS Montgomery (LCS-8) sustained damage to her hull while transiting Southbound through the Gatun and Pedro Miguel locks of the Panama Canal. Under control of the local Panama Canal Pilot, the ship impacted the center lock wall and sustained an 18-inch-long crack between her port quarter and transom plates. The crack is located 8-10 feet above the waterline and poses no water intrusion or stability risk.

The ship has continued her transit as scheduled, has now exited the Panama Canal and is expected to arrive at her new homeport of San Diego next month.

  • Bailey Zhang

    So the LCS became the biggest joke of year, first time not the JSF for a decade.

    • Aubrey

      The LCS jokes just continue to write themselves

      • Lazarus

        No, just a dedicated group of defense journalists in search of a story.

        • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

          Poor performance attracts coverage.

          • Lazarus

            24 hour news demands stories.

    • Robert Montgomery

      Why does this continue to make LCS a joke? Naval ships are always getting damaged going through the Panama Canal.

      • BudgetGeek

        Always? Do you have data to back that up?

        • Robert Montgomery

          I’m sure there is data somewhere.

      • Old Nuke

        Been through the canal twice. Neither time did our ship get damaged. Sure would like to see your data.

        • Robert Montgomery

          I’ve been through it once…got some dents. It’s a tight fit through the locks, especially for the Trimaran LCS.

          • Tim Haven

            Carriers go through now with no problems, don’t pass it off as a tight fit.

          • Robert Montgomery

            It is a tight fit…I’ve gone through on a LCS.

          • Robert Montgomery

            The locks are 110 ft wide…the Trimaran LCS is 104 ft wide…that’s a tight fit.

          • Lazarus

            Nimitz class CVN’s could not physically go through before New Panamax expansion. Still too large at 134 ft beam at the waterline.

        • Lazarus

          Been through 6 times (Panama) and twice through Soo Locks (on Great Lakes cruise.) First ship (USS Blakely FF 1072) was damaged going through in 1991 by canal pilot. Sonar dome heavily damaged. Some flooding. CO not responsible as Panama canal authority assumes all responsibility past a certain point. Damage can and does happen. It never makes the news unless of course it is LCS. Secretary Stackley is correct in saying that LCS is “live-streamed 24/7.” Would hate to see LCS haters go into withdrawal if the US re-imposed Cold War era vessel reporting restrictions.

  • Guest

    Cursed.

  • Ed L

    That Poor Captain will still take a hit, Nothing big but he will have to go see the Squadron command at least .

    • Lazarus

      The CO of a Navy ship is actually relieved of the responsibility for safe navigation of the ship when she enters the canal. Nothing will happen to the CO.

      • BudgetGeek

        What about my tax dollars? Does the pilot pay damages?

        • Lazarus

          The canal authority is liable for damages. The pilots carry some significant insurance.

      • Ed L

        actually there when something of this nature happens (I was the BMOW during one) There is an inquiry that goes along with the damage assessment. right after sea and anchor detail was over. The entire bridge team had to write statement. (got to sit in the wardroom!!) Our Skipper had to visit the squadron and group commander. Along with the Navigator, OOD, JOOD and wooden indian (helm officer) Nothing happen, except for draining a fuel tank and fixing the damage when the ship hit the quay. recording of the pilot radio commands show he gave the right order to the wrong tug. The civilian tugs had a recording system (for insurance ) the Tugs had M on there stacks

        • Lazarus

          Agree it all has to be documented.

  • Zapp Brannigan

    Deliberate? What is the consequence for the local canal pilot? I assume that he won’t be piloting any other USN ships through the canal.

  • Curtis Conway

    Excruciating. I can’t read this LCS stuff anymore.

    • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

      I think USS Montgomery must’ve been built over an old Indian graveyard or something. She appears to be cursed.

      On the plus side – at least we are finding out how flawed and weak these ships are now. Rather than in combat.

      • Phil Blank

        They are all cursed, they are junk!
        Don’t worry about combat, any enemy already knows what junk they are by reading the news!

        • Gerald Reynolds

          Hmm. I use to work at Todd Shipyard in San Pedro during the FFG program. We lost out on the Aegis program to Bath Ironworks in Maine and that was the end of Todd Shipyard in San Pedro. I believe the FFGs were considered obsolete by the time they hit the water in the 80s.

    • Tim Dolan

      You matched my first thought when I saw this.

      I like the LCS concept, I really do, but dang they seem to have a lot of accidents they shouldn’t be having. The concept is good for combat support ships (not direct combat ships), but the execution of the concept leaves a whole lot to be desired.

      • Robert Montgomery

        Every new class of ship has its flaws. Trust me a lot has changed and for the better on the LCS since it started in 2007.

        • Tim Dolan

          Understand that, the M-1 Abrams and M-2 Bradley had their detractors until Desert Storm. The V-22 had some serious issues, but apparently it is working really great these days. Mostly before my time, but I understand the F-4 had similar issues and then went on to be one of the largest production run of jet combat aircraft. But it does get disheartening if you are a supporter and then you keep seeing the negatives in the news.

          • Robert Montgomery

            Agree…but hopefully they will keep trying to improve it.

          • Curtis Conway

            The LCS is a platform looking for a mission. The only mission out there looking for a platform happens to be the Mine Counter Measures. That mission module is not fully functional yet.

          • PolicyWonk

            This is true – many platforms/weapons/ship classes had their teething problems and detractors. But the “littoral combat ship” is different on a number levels – starting with the unfortunate fact that according to former CNO Adm. Greenert, LCS “was never intended to venture into the littorals to engage in combat”.

            It was only intended to be a utility platform, and therefore it was never intended to carry weapons or defensive measures of significance. Hence – very little room for growth.

            Its supposed to have an extremely high level of availability and utilization with many automated systems and reduced crew. But its propulsion system is incredibly complex and is notoriously unreliable, requiring a very high maintenance level. Its mission systems cannot be swapped out nearly as fast as claimed; it requires a lot more crew than was planned for; they are extremely expensive; and we still don’t have a solution to address littoral warfare.

        • sparky42

          Have any of the planned modules actually entered service?

      • Curtis Conway

        It is a ship for the Brown and Green Water Navy, and guess who is NOT involved in its development, tasking and operations ? . . the US Navy Expeditionary Combat Command who operate in those arenas.

        • PolicyWonk

          There you go again – attempting to apply common sense and logic…

        • Lazarus

          Those people run small boats in rivers, not warships.

          • PolicyWonk

            The “street fighter” concept wasn’t intended to be a hyper-expensive, 3400 ton, toothless monstrosity that is all but useless for effective littoral or blue water missions.

            “Street fighter” was supposed to be far smaller, for its size far more heavily armed/protected, while costing less than a quarter (per unit) of what a single “littoral combat ship” currently does.

            What has become the so-called “littoral combat ship” only retains the implied title of what funding was approved for, yet this nation still has no platform that is intended to fight and prevail in the littorals. These admiral’s water-skiing barges the taxpayers have been shafted into paying for might be able to use the gold-plated propulsion systems’ speed to run away from the first sign of trouble (provided, of course, they don’t break down in the process).

            NECC, who does do the inshore fighting, should have been the prime recipient of these funds. Those responsible for re-directing these funds should be prosecuted for defrauding the taxpayers.

          • Lazarus

            The “angry, blame the admirals for everything” comment does not enhance your argument and suggests you don’t know how shipbuilding works.

          • PolicyWonk

            You’ll have to forgive my sarcasm – but so far I’ve seen nothing from you that changes the argument.

            And the unpleasant fact remains: the blue water crowd usurped the funding provided for the development of the “street fighter” concept, and took what was supposed to be a “littoral combat ship” and turned into something that is neither suitable for littoral or blue water operations – while ironically never being designed to “venture into the littorals to engage in COMBAT” (this, according to the former CNO).

            Hence: your statement is rendered meaningless in light of the facts.

            The speed “requirement” for LCS has never been justified by the USN, and the complexity of the propulsion systems on both LCS variants vastly over complicates what was supposed to be a straightforward design, while massively increasing the cost of acquisition and maintenance.

          • Curtis Conway

            Sounds like a mission tweak to me!

    • PolicyWonk

      Concur.

      I’ve stopped asking “how much worse can things possibly get?”, because I’m not sure I want to know the answer.

      • Lazarus

        Your lack of knowledge on naval issues is astounding!

        • PolicyWonk

          The lack of candor and blatant disregard for the sailors that are ordered to man these ships, or the staggering expense being imposed on the taxpayers, on the part of the USN and LCS cheerleaders is equally, or even more astonishing.

          Laz, you are the one who claims that: the USN’s own Inspector General’s report w/r/t LCS surviveability is wrong; and that all the auditing agencies (DOT&E, OMB, etc.) are also wrong.

          The Saudi’s and Israeli’s were also initially interested in LCS, but they all walked away, saying that it was FAR too expensive given the small ROI. You might take note, that the LCS variant contracted by the Saudi’s represents brain surgery to a Freedom-class sea-frame (quite a bit larger), and a massive improvement in firepower and protection – at a better price point given the capabilities.

          What it is that makes YOU and the promoters of this corporate welfare program the only smart ones?

          I happen to agree with the Navy’s IG, OMB, and DOT&E. To you, that instantly catalogs me (and the rest of us who are calling BRAVO SIERRA) as know-nothings.

          As I’ve said before, with all due respect, that I’ll believe the Navy’s IG before I believe you.

          • Curtis Conway

            Laz, everyone of his mindset, and in his group, are part of the problem. THEY KNOW, AND YOU DON’T . . . and then we find out they . . . don’t know . . and we find out the hard way! Let’s hope no sailors die in the additional finding out.

    • Lazarus

      Then just don’t read them.

      • Curtis Conway

        THEY SHOULDN’T EXIST IN THE FIRST PLACE!!! Waste my tax payers dollars this way, with real things needing to be addressed? Thinking like that is EXACTLY what has brought us to this place in time, and this readiness level, with the equipment that currently exist. That bubble of a liberal world view is about to pop.

        • Lazarus

          This class of warships has nothing to do with politics. It predates the current administration.

          • Curtis Conway

            AND its very design and concept was based upon a false assumption, and we are now living with the result . . . and still needing REAL FRIGATES in quantity!

            When one studies the HiStory, and looks at who was making the decisions, one wonders WHO is looking out for the country, and who benefited because of the decision. The decision to park the OHP FFG-7s was questioned by everyone of us who understood the ‘Presence’ issue with a few Treaties in Europe, and many Treaties in Pacific. The other side was saying that it was no longer required. Then all kinds of things began to happen around the planet in our absence. Those who INSISTED that presence requirements ‘were not required’ should pay for that bad judgement, and that is true of those in the Bush administration who thought so too!

        • NEC338x

          There just needs to be a directive that media outlets spike all LCS stories. Problem solved!

          • Curtis Conway

            tongue in cheek.

  • Lazarus

    This is not news. My first ship had a Panama canal accident; ruptured the sonar dome and flooded a sonar space and was NEVER news.

  • OMG, HERE we go again. Can someone PLEASE for the LOVE of GOD kill the LCS before it kills a sailor.

    • Lazarus

      What, no frigate pictures?

      • WHAT NO blaming the sailor or the CO, Steven

        • Lazarus

          This time it is the Panama canal pilot. They have complete responsibility for the ship within canal limits.

    • Robert Montgomery

      Because the ship got damaged in the Panama Canal…the program should be killed? Lol

      • Tim Haven

        No, it should be killed because, there is NO practical use for an LCS and, they are a waste of the taxpayer dollar.

        • Robert Montgomery

          Well the LCS is not going away…and it does serve a purpose. You apparently know nothing about this new class of ship. The purpose of this ship is to provide multiple missions from one type of ship…mine warfare, surface warfare, and anti-submarine warfare. Depending on what the Navy needs…they load the particular mission package up and send it out to an area ahead of the battle group.

          • Ctrot

            Actually the navy decided a month or two ago that module swapping ain’t gonna happen. Individual LCS will be outfitted for one mission (assuming they can ever figure out a weapons loadout that will work) and stick to that mission, most likely for the life of the vessel. So maybe you might want to update your knowledge base on the LCS.

          • Lazarus

            Module swapping conditions and periodicity have changed. You might want to update your LCS knowledge.

          • Tim Dolan

            Just to be picky, the modules will still be technically possible, just they are no longer going to train or plan for swapping the modules. So if we do lose too many of one kind of variant, we could bring another in and reconfigure it to the lost capability faster than building new, but not in two weeks, more like two months now. Plus crew training time. I suspect even that capability goes bye bye with the “frigate” variant.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Robert Montgomery. LCS cannot currently do any of those missions you listed – except for very low-end SUW.

            The ASW and MCM mission modules have not even been fielded.

            And this is fifteen years after program was initiated. It’s a complete disaster.

          • Robert Montgomery

            Not sure where you get your info…ASW has been fielded and works perfect. I’ve been on one ASW exercise. You’re correct on the MCM module. It has struggled and they are replacing it with another type of MCM. I haven’t seen the results of this new package yet.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Not fielded yet – at least according to Navy. Still in test and evaluation.

            Show me where there is a deployed LCS ASW module.

          • Lazarus

            There were only 2 LCS until 2013. The first two units were deliberately designed as experimental. The class only entered full rate production of stable designs in 2013. Your “15 years” assertion is not true.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            The establishment of the LCS program was announced on November 1, 2001. Fifteen years to the day actually.

            Time marches on. Especially when you are screwed up.

          • Lazarus

            The F-22 program was established in the late 1980’s and did not even deliver its first production aircraft for over 15 years. A warship is a much more complicated system than an airplane. Some things take time to develop. The emphasis is on the product and not the system that makes the product.

          • the_artist_formerly_known_as_m

            Laz. By your own admission you are not qualified to comment on aircraft. Have you ever worked in NAVAIR or AFMC?

            I would imagine designing a stealth fighter is probably as complicated as designing a warship. Poorly designed ships float. Poorly designed aircraft crash.

            You have said on several occasions that LCS has relatively simple combat systems. Hull designed to commercial standards. Minimal weapons. So what could possibly go wrong? 🙂

            In my opinion: the LCS product sucks largely because the process was so incredibly screwed up.

          • Lazarus

            We of course continue to disagree.

          • John Locke

            OOD: “Captain we have a feather approximately 2kyds port quarter.”
            Captain: “Well turn around and go back to port to get the ASW module”

          • Robert Montgomery

            Lol good one.

          • Refguy

            You have been drinking way too muck koolaid

          • BFF46350

            Ha! Robert’s just an LCS sailor defending his boat!
            Aegis escorts are tasked with protecting THOUSANDS of lives in combat “zones”. First, the gulf… Now, the Red Sea, next the South China Sea??? There is no economical replacement! Especially not the LCS!

  • old guy

    Ol’ HUNK-A-JUNK fails again. I think all in this class should be named after their true
    supporters, THE LOBBYISTS.

  • tiger

    New nick name; “Old tinfoilsides”

  • Leonard Kurland

    A lot of ships have transited the canal. I’ve been on one twice and the USS New Jersey several times and no damage. It’s either bad seamanship or rotten construction, I heard once that Litton when building on class of ships that someone didn’t weld a seam and plugged it.

  • Kenneth

    LOL These ships are bad luck. I am afraid one morning I am going to see the news and find out one of these lousy ships sunk. Three types of ships are pieces of crap. The Ford, DG 1000 and these LCS’s. For the amount of money spent on these ships we could have built real ships that are tested and true. Yes I know they need more electrical power to power space weapons but enough is enough.

  • Eric Arllen

    LCS Class – cleanest ships in the Navy. No rat would ever set foot on one. Too likely to sink spontaneously just by being jinxed.

    Hull damage from impacting the center lock wall? No, I don’t think so. My guess is someone dropped a Kleenex on a passageway deck and it landed hard.

    Time to offer these losers up for FMS sale.

    • Robert Montgomery

      They are a lot tougher than you think. I was stationed on a Ticonderoga cruiser and it couldn’t take much beating st sea either. These ships actually ride rough seas pretty well with a ride control system that compensates for rough seas. The days of tough steel battleships and heavy cruisers are past us.

    • Robert Montgomery

      Lol every type of ship in the Navy will sink during wartime…don’t be fooled.

  • Marcd30319

    LCS – the Edsel of US Navy warships.

  • publius_maximus_III

    The Whackingest Ship in the Arm.. umm, Navy.

  • BubbaLama

    Change the name to the USS Pinata. I challenge my SC Senators Scott and Graham to immediately demand a halt in the production of these deathtraps. Bump a lock wall and crack the hull? The Chinese are now retrofitting small attack boats with waterline mounted 8 meter long sections of rebar rams. Why waste ammo when you can simply slam into the scow? Imagine getting swarmed by a few reinforced hulled fishing boats….
    God help our brave Sailors and Officers who are tasked with sailing these deathtraps.

  • BubbaLama

    LCS-F (Fragile).

  • Phantombite

    The Coasties are in need of ships. Maybe assign the LCS class ships to the Great Lakes. Sail the ships during the summer and overhaul them in the winter.

  • Bad Penguin

    Another Ship Captain will be relieved for loss of confidence.

  • Perro Viejo

    NOT…..a lucky ship. I’m seriously questioning the sense of these LCS units…..

  • omegatalon

    I was watching a video of how the Independence class LCS does not require the assistance of tugboats and can use their engines to make tight maneuvers like slipping in and out of dock; thus, this sounds like human error as someone used too much thrust and caused the Montgomery to smack against the wall.

    • Lazarus

      Canal pilot error.

  • donjames911

    Another Navy Skipper on his way to early retirement, methinks…

    • Lazarus

      No. The canal zone operations are such that it is one of the few places where the CO is not responsible for safe navigation of the ship. The CO will not be penalized.

      • donjames911

        I hope not, too many capable skippers have gone down the tubes lately.

  • sferrin

    Jesus. I’m as understanding as the next guy but these guys just can’t catch a break.

  • John B. Morgen

    The hull is a very odd design, and it should have been given rubber bumpers, before going through the locks.

    • Niki Ptt

      No room, two feet clearance on each side.

      • John B. Morgen

        There shouldn’t been a problem if guide lines were used in towing the LCS through the locks.

  • Bill Wright

    As I’ve said B4, a submarine shippers dream target, 1 mk 46 and on 2 the next target. All the miscellaneous hull fractures reveal how vonderable they are to damage, today we been lucky none have occurred below the waterline.

    • Niki Ptt

      You’ve apparently no naval background if you think you can find a Mk46 onboard a submarine…

  • Henry Rodriguez

    So you can detonate a bomb next to this vessel, but it can’t survive running into something at a low speed.

  • Mike Sutton

    Shouldn’t Panama pay for repairs as their pilot damaged it.Why should the US taxpayers pay for this?

  • Jack___Hole

    It’s amazing that these LCS warships are so fragile.