I am one of those who think the whole LCS program is a massive boondoggle, poorly conceived and designed, tested to far lower standards than the Navy itself demands of other ships, and as is now apparent, manned by poorly trained and unskilled crews managed by officers more interested in protecting their careers than acting like professionals.
The Freedom has a worse (if that is possible) history of failures and non-availability than the other LCS versions because of design, construction, and crew incompetence issues but this latest revelation indicates that from construction to crew competence the thing has never been subject to adult supervision.
The casualty report mentions the fact that the engine builder called for piping the tell tale to a visible location, they even threaded the tell tale to facilitate this feature. Neither the Navy, the ship builder, or the crew followed this instruction. Apparently no one in the crew of what some claim to be senior and experienced personnel knew what a tell tale is or why it exists - to the point of twice plugging the tell tale to stop it from leaking.
What happened the first time the tell tale was plugged? Was the engine contaminated that time as well? Why was the manufacturer’s instruction to pipe the tell tale to a visible location not followed at that time?
Probably more importantly, what does this debacle say about a culture that leads the chief engineer to withhold critical information (the lube oil flushing results) from the master because the master did not have the “appetite” to tell his bosses that the taxpayer’s ship was broken? Why was this withholding of information not worthy of criminal charges by itself? The whole stinking pile described in that report reads like a widely spread conspiracy to avoid adding to the well earned negative publicity that follows the entire LCS program.
If there is any positive aspect of this incident, it exposes not only the chronically ill culture that lead to a failure of leadership at every level of the Freedom operation, it exposed the complete failure of a Navy training system which used to be among the best on the planet. Again, it is what is not written in the report that condemns another generation of sailors to a repeat of a series of too often fatal failures of machinery, seamanship, and leadership.
This is an example of why I have written in the past that the Navy has become a corrupt and incompetent organization that is unfit to oversee its own operation. It is riddled with a cancer of political ambition and ethical deficit. Is there a will to correct this condition? What can be done and who should drain this part of a deepening swamp?
Voltaire probably put it best when he wrote "… il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres – “… it is wise to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others.”
We don’t have to go to that extreme these days but a very public sacking of a few hundred senior officers and enlisted with loss of all privilege and benefits might keep them thinking about the job they are paid to do rather than the defense contractor jobs they are hoping for.