USS Boxer Back in San Diego for Repairs, Pacific Deployment Stalled

April 11, 2024 2:06 PM - Updated: April 11, 2024 10:57 PM
USS Boxer (LHD-4) coming into San Diego on April 11, 2024. San Diego Webcam Photo

USS Boxer (LHD-4) is back in San Diego, Calif., after suffering an engineering casualty, forcing the big deck amphibious warship to return for repairs, USNI News has learned.

Boxer and elements of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit left on April 1 for a Pacific deployment that had been on hold due in part to maintenance issues on the big deck. Following the departure, Boxer operated off the coast of California recertifying Marines with MV-22B Ospreys after a grounding that was lifted last month.

“USS Boxer is returning to San Diego to undergo additional maintenance in support of its deployment in the Indo-Pacific region. Boxer departed San Diego on April 1 for an Indo-Pacific deployment and was conducting integration exercises with the MV-22 Osprey in the 3rd Fleet Area of Operations,” reads a statement from U.S. 3rd Fleet to USNI News.
“USS Boxer will resume its deployment in the near future.”

Navy officials did not detail the casualty when asked but USNI News understands the casualty is related to the ship’s rudder. A defense official told USNI News the repairs could take two to three weeks based on the early damage estimates.

Marines and aircraft from the 15th MEU were offloaded from Boxer prior to its return, two defense officials told USNI News on Thursday.

The big deck is the flagship of the three-ship Boxer Amphibious Ready Group, which includes USS Somerset (LPD-25) and USS Harpers Ferry (LSD-49). The deployment is the first for the Amphibious Combat Vehicle, the successor to the retired Assault Amphibious Vehicle.

Somerset departed on its own in January and participated in a series of exercises in the Western Pacific ahead of Boxer and Harpers Ferry. Harper’s Ferry departed San Diego on March 19.

Sailors on Boxer were the subject of two command investigations that found major deficiencies in maintenance and crew discipline. A defense official told USNI News on Thursday, “quality assurance and contractor performance contributed significantly to the delays in Boxer’s deployment.”

The delay in deployment has upended a series of planned engagements and exercises in the Pacific causing frustration for operators in the region, defense officials have told USNI News over the last several weeks.

“How much longer are we going to accept such catastrophic maintenance management from the U.S. Navy before someone at the Pentagon gets fired?” one defense official told USNI News.

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
Follow @samlagrone

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