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NAVSEA Still Working on USS Zumwalt Engineering Fix

USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000), steams through San Diego Bay on Dec. 8, 2016. US Navy Photo

USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000), steams through San Diego Bay on Dec. 8, 2016. US Navy Photo

Naval Sea Systems Command is still working on a fix for the engineering problems on USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) that resulted in the ship breaking down at least twice during its transit from Maine to San Diego – including in the Panama Canal — service officials said on Thursday.

NAVSEA has zeroed in on failures with the ship’s lube oil coolers as the major cause of the difficulties that sidelined Zumwalt at least twice during its three-month transit. Lube oil coolers prevent the lubrication of rotating shafts from breaking down due to heat and friction. In late November water from the coolers seeped in to two of the four bearings that connect to Zumwalt’s port and starboard Advanced Induction Motors (AIMs) to the drive shafts.

“I think what’s frustrated us with DDG-1000 is we’ve had lube oil coolers since Noah had an ark, so what’s the cause there? We’re still really working our way through what the root causes are there,” Vice Adm. Thomas Moore, commander NAVSEA said on Thursday.
“So I think it’s, from our standpoint, it’s a key reminder that these are, even lube oil coolers, even though the ships are complex systems, relatively simple things can cause these ships to have problems.”

According to information provided to USNI News by NAVSEA, the service is analyzing the lube oil coolers at the Naval Surface Warfare Centers in Philadelphia and Carderock.

“Root cause analyses related to casualties experienced during the ship’s transit are ongoing, and results will be leveraged in the development of long-term corrective actions for this ship class,” read a statement provided to USNI News.

Cables running to one of two Advanced Induction Motors on USS Zumwalt. USNI News Photo

Cables running to one of two Advanced Induction Motors on USS Zumwalt. USNI News Photo

Zumwalt’s engineering woes began when in route to Naval Station Norfolk, Va. and the crew found the saltwater in bearings on the ship.

The Navy replaced the affected lube oil coolers using replacements from under-construction Zumwalt-class Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002) and the Navy’s land-based test site for the ship’s electric integrated power system in Philadelphia.

The ship suffered a similar incident when it was transiting the Panama Canal resulting in both shafts locking and the ship losing steerage. Zumwalt suffered minor damage after scraping against a lock wall and had to be towed to undergo additional repairs.

The ship suffered an additional casualty on its way to San Diego and came in under propulsion restrictions.

As of this week, NAVSEA officials said while the fix is under consideration, it would likely be completed by the time the ship begins the work for its combat system activation period.

“I feel pretty confident we’re going to come through these and we’ll have the fix in place by the time we get through the combat system activation industrial period that’s getting ready to get started in San Diego in the March timeframe,” Program Executive Officer Ships Rear Adm. Bill Galinis said on Thursday.

“There’s a number of options out there in terms of how we address that, whether it’s a material change, a design change, a change in terms of the lube flow flowing through the coolers, or maybe even an operational change in how we operate the coolers. So a number of items in terms of what we can do there.”

Two more ships in the class are currently under construction at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works shipyard in Maine.

The following is the complete NAVSEA statement to USNI News on the ongoing work to fix the engineering problems on USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000).

During USS Zumwalt’s (DDG 1000) transit from the Bath Iron Works Shipyard to its homeport of San Diego, seawater contamination in two propulsion motor bearing lubricating oil sumps was discovered. Prior to arrival at its homeport, In-Service Engineering Agents (ISEA) and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) worked alongside ship’s force to perform repairs which required replacement of the lubrication oil coolers and flushing of the affected lubrication oil.

Though systems are tested at sea during a period of trials prior to sail away and transit, sail around provides the ship’s force and OEMs a first opportunity for long-term operation of all the ship’s systems. It is not uncommon for first-of-class ships to identify deficiencies and undergo repairs during underway periods following construction. Root cause analyses related to casualties experienced during the ship’s transit are ongoing, and results will be leveraged in the development of long-term corrective actions for this ship class.

With USS Zumwalt in San Diego, a study team has been stood up to conduct analyses related to the casualties experienced during the ship’s transit. Engineers from the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) are working alongside the OEMs and contractors to evaluate root causes, conduct testing and identify solutions. Forensic analysis of the AIM lube oil coolers is ongoing at Naval Surface Warfare Center Philadelphia Division (NSWCPD) and Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division (NSWCCD).


–Megan Eckstein contributed to this report.

  • The Plague

    They need a “study group” and half the Navy’s technical divisions to rectify a problem with lube-oil coolers. Either they’re demented beyond comprehension (like 90% of today’s corporate executives), or they’re hiding something bigger and blowing smoke up our collective a$$.

    • NEC338x

      Cooling lube oil is SO old school. It is doubtful that there is anyone with first hand experience remaining in the Global Transformational Force for Good. Hopefully a group of old fogeys will quickly form a consulting firm and offer their services for a “reasonable” fee.

      • longtrail

        Payback Time! 😋

  • RobM1981

    It’s rare for Captain Kirk to not have Warp Power when he calls down to Scotty, eh?

    • MedicVa

      Since you haven’t heard, CAPT Kirk will no longer be directing Scotty or Sulu for warp speed, as he is not in command of DDG 1000. CAPT Tait is the CO.

  • scott

    All LCS witch-hunters, please feel free to rip this ship apart, or do you cynics give it a pass since it has BIG GUNS (Albeit with no ammo). Where are all the comments screaming for this program to be cancelled! A bunch of hypocrites out there. $4B for 1 ship, I’ll take 10 LCS’s outfitted with antiship missiles

    • Ed L

      I think the LCS should lose most the helo hanger (freedom class) for VLS for SM-6 missiles. and the independence class lose forward part of helo hangers for SM-6 missiles. Then leave enough hanger space for drone storage and support.

  • john

    The DDG-1000 program depends on two emergent technologies: rail guns and 300kw+ lasers. If those do not come to fruition, especially the 300+ kw lasers, the US has built a very expensive platform that has no use in today’s world.

  • Liars N. Fools

    Even if a ship actually doesn’t work, can we still count it towards the 355?

  • Lepke Buchalter

    The admirals overseeing these engineering projects are not qualified. PERIOD. They’re spending other peoples money on advanced or restyled equipment that obviously hasn’t been tested completely. We now have 3 major combat vessel types with serious engineering problems. Zumwalt, Ford, and both LCS. The LCS would be hard pressed to protect itself from any threat. At least the Zumwalt and Ford have anti air defense (in theory).
    Maybe the admirals should visit a museum ship and see how it was done when ships steamed hundreds of thousands of miles.

  • life form

    editing heads up, paragraph 8
    “Zumwalt suffered minor damage after scrapping against a lock wall…..”

    should be “…scraping against a lock wall…”

  • Ed L

    From experience in working with NAVSEA in the 80’s For a Year. Our ship was assigned to test new designs/equipment for Operations, Deck, Engineering systems. (The designers rarely got it right the 4th time, let alone the 1st time). I remember one piece of equipment (new light weight accommodation ladder came back 5 times before they finally got it okayed) Then us Deck types broke it again. . I remember when the First Spruance DDG’s were going thought gitmo refresher training. (isolated fire main break the gitmo people would say) DCO would relay the order and get back a done in less than 60 seconds. Gitmo trainer’s had not rewritten there training routine for the Spruance’s. I imagine the DDG-1000 will itself straight after the designers start listening to the people operating her. New ship new systems. things like this take time. Can’t expect NAVSEA to get it correct the first time. guess civilians will be riding her for a while.

  • Mela

    This article about the Naval Sea Systems Command engineering problems with the ship’s lube oil coolers underline the importance of paying detail attention in the initial overall design and maintenance of simple components such as the lube oil coolers in a complex system such as a naval ship.

    The statement that the “Navy replaced the affected lube oil coolers using replacements” from another ship under-construction without first finding out the root cause of the lube oil coolers failing using root cause analysis is misguided and akin to insanity (doing the same thing expecting different result).

    An effective root cause problem solving session can yield important information and clues to help make changes to solve the problem permanently. These could be design changes, change in the oil viscosity used, or operational changes as mentioned in the article.

    There are couple of instances where we are faced with issues like in this article at my job now and we use root cause problem solving sessions to solve the problem, in one instance, just changing the oil type that we use to a different oil that will accommodate higher temperatures and pressures actually solved our problems.

  • old guy

    “OL Flopover” will remain a “hangar queen” her whole life. Conceived poorly, executed poorly, does not bode well. I am VERY proud that I was among the voices that cut the buy severely.