The Navy’s future littoral combat ship Cleveland launched with a literal bang Saturday, when it collided with a supporting tugboat in the Menominee River at Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin, officials said.
No one was injured during the “unintentional contact,” but the future LCS’s botched christening caused limited damage to Cleveland, the last of the troubled Freedom-class ships.
Videos online show several angles of the mishap and audible groans as the ship struck the tug.
“The damaged area is well above the waterline and no flooding occurred,” Naval Sea Systems Command spokeswoman Jamie Koehler said in an email. “An assessment was completed and permanent repairs are being planned. Root cause of the incident is currently under investigation by the Navy and shipbuilder.”
The Navy has not said when Cleveland will be commissioned, but a Pentagon release ahead of the christening noted that Saturday’s “side-launch” would be the last at the Wisconsin shipyard, with follow-on ships being launched using a shiplift system.
To date, the ship class has failed to ever take on the missions envisaged for it earlier this century, agile, fast warships operating in coastal waters to hunt and destroy enemy submarines, eliminate anti-ship mines and defend the fleet from attacks by small boats. Questions linger about how such a ship would contribute in a shooting war with China.
The Freedom-class LCS has suffered from a class-wide transmission issue, while some ships in the Independence variant have suffered from hull cracks.
As the Navy and other services focus on a potential future fight with China, the sea service has sought to decommission LCSs early, including some that were in service for less than a decade.
Some have successfully taken on West Pacific presence patrols and counter-narcotics missions around South America and the Caribbean.
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