New Navy Ship San Antonio Found To Be Rife With Flaws

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
Norfolk Virginian-Pilot
April 14, 2007
By Louis Hansen, The Virginian-Pilot
NORFOLK - The new amphibious ship San Antonio failed to complete a series of sea trials in late March, and faces $36 million in repairs during the next three months.
The Norfolk-based ship, the first of a new generation of helicopter and troop transports, could not be sea-tested during a five-day inspection period because one of its two steering systems completely failed, the Navy announced late Friday afternoon.
Navy inspectors found major defects in three of 17 categories during a final comprehensive review of the ship March 26-30 at Norfolk Naval Station. The San Antonio stayed in port for five days while 140 Navy inspectors chronicled a progression of minor and major flaws.
Among the major failures:
*A broken electronic circuit card rendered the starboard steering system inoperable and prevented the ship from leaving port.
*A ventilation system in the fuel pumping room failed, allowing the build-up of flammable vapors.
*Radio communications between pilots and landing signal officers on the flight deck were momentarily dropped and had to be reset during take-offs and landings.
"We knew this was going to be a hard inspection going in," said Capt. Bill Galinis, program manager for the new amphibious transport dock ship class, known as LPD-17. The ship will eventually be a tremendous asset to the fleet, he said.
Galinis said the steering problem prevented the ship from undergoing other tests at sea. The steering was fixed and the ship got under way three days after the trial ended.
The Navy should be able to fix most problems during a scheduled three-month stay at BAE Systems shipyard in Norfolk, he said. The Navy has allocated $36 million for repairs and improvements to the vessel.
"We've got work to do," Galinis said.
Design and construction improvements have been incorporated into the second and third ships in the class, which are now in production, he said. "We're not where we want to be," he said. But, he added, "we're seeing improvement across the class."
The San Antonio has been plagued by mechanical and structural problems since the Navy took ownership two years late, in July 2005. Northrup Grumman Ship Systems in Pascagoula, Miss., built the ship at a cost of $1.2 billion, roughly $400 million over budget.
According to a 2005 Navy report, inspectors found "poor construction and craftsmanship." Ladders were missing handrails, unventilated space housed toxic chemicals and wires and cables gnarled into an over packed electrical plant.
Despite the troubles, the ship was under way for 200 days last year, Galinis said. It rescued a distressed fishing vessel off the North Carolina coast in December.
It has not been on an overseas deployment and the Navy said it is unclear when the ship will be ready. Capt. Conrad Chun, spokesman for Fleet Forces, said the inaugural ships in a new class generally have more problems than succeeding vessels.
Still, Chun said, "We will do everything we can to make sure the ship is ready before its deployment."
Typical defense contractors.

I am afraid so.

I work in IT, if electronics equipment is giving out when its brand new (assuming its brand new) it was either improperly installed, was in conflict with another device or piece of equipment, or worse (and most likely)...someone was cutting a few corners.

Some of you would be surprised how much of the chips and curcuit boards for critical systems (including military) come from China and Taiwan. The stuff is cheap and CHEAP.

I also find it amazing that the steering of an entire $1.2 Billion ship could be completely disabled by a single failure, had nobody heard of redundant systems?
It's first in its class - I'm not saying that's a good excuse, but of course it's going to have some flaws.

It be nice if these flaws didn't cause catastrophic failure though.