Markets

Instant Analysis: USS Milwaukee's Embarrassing Breakdown

What happened?

On Dec. 11, the Navy's newest warship, the USS Milwaukee , suffered an engine outage during her maiden oceangoing voyage. According to news reports, the Littoral Combat Ship was commissioned on Nov. 21 and departed inland waters from Halifax, Canada, en route to Mayport, Florida -- thence to her ultimate duty station in San Diego, at which point the ship would begin "shakedown" work to identify bugs in her system.

She never made it even to the halfway point, however. Instead, Milwaukee suffered an engineering "casualty" off the Atlantic coast, and had to be towed to port in Virginia.

Initial reports are that metal filings were discovered in the vessel's oil filter, which caused a loss of oil pressure and forced the engine to shut down.

Does it matter?

Critics of the LCS class of ships are making political hay of the incident, with Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, for example, demanding "a thorough investigation into the root causes of this failure." That sounds serious, and the companies that build the LCS for the Navy -- General Dynamics , its partner Austal , and Lockheed Martin -- cannot afford to get on Sen. McCain's bad side. But the problem may not be as bad as it sounds.

After all, working out bugs in the system is a natural part of warship delivery. Other LCSes have had other problems in their post-delivery shakedown exercises, too.

Lockheed Martin's Freedom -class warships (the same class as Milwaukee ) are built with steel hulls, for example. But General Dynamics' and Austal's Independence -class LCS had a problem with "galvanic corrosion" of its aluminum hull. That issue first surfaced five years ago, but was dealt with, and the LCSes are still getting built.

Metal filings in the lube oil? That's a new but not a "classwide issue," according to the Navy. It's probably just an isolated hiccup -- possibly the result of a simple misalignment of something in the engine. A few bangs with a wrench and Milwaukee 'll be good as new.

Like the corrosion issue, it'll get identified, fixed, and the LCS program will move ahead. After all, that's what shakedown cruises are for.

The next billion-dollar iSecret

The world's biggest tech company forgot to show you something at its recent event, but a few Wall Street analysts and the Fool didn't miss a beat: There's a small company that's powering their brand-new gadgets and the coming revolution in technology. And we think its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know investors! To be one of them, just click here .

The article Instant Analysis: USS Milwaukee's Embarrassing Breakdown originally appeared on Fool.com.

Rich Smith does not own shares of, nor is he short, any company named above. You can find him onMotley Fool CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handleTMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 300 out of more than 75,000 rated members.The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned either. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days . We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

Copyright © 1995 - 2015 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

In This Story

AUTLY GD LMT

Other Topics

Stocks

Latest Markets Videos

    The Motley Fool

    Founded in 1993 in Alexandria, VA., by brothers David and Tom Gardner, The Motley Fool is a multimedia financial-services company dedicated to building the world's greatest investment community. Reaching millions of people each month through its website, books, newspaper column, radio show, television appearances, and subscription newsletter services, The Motley Fool champions shareholder values and advocates tirelessly for the individual investor. The company's name was taken from Shakespeare, whose wise fools both instructed and amused, and could speak the truth to the king -- without getting their heads lopped off.

    Learn More