LCS Main Engine casualty

Interesting article on the engineering casualty suffered on the USS Freedom. All these studies out, yet the simple explanation to me is a serious lack of knowledge and focus on what’s important.

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Hot and heavy terminology from the San Diego Tribune.

But in all seriousness, it’s bizarre that the Navy doesn’t see the need for a dedicated engineering officer track. If you want to try to push performance with reduced manning and modern technology, seems like you might want to make being an engineer a full career path vs. a temporary assignment

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It always pissed me off when someone would ask what I did for a living then ask how long before I’m Captain. There was always a confused look on their face when I said nope, I’m at the top of where I can or want to go, only to find out they used to be in the Navy.

For years, I have been thinking and saying the same thing. Why don’t they have career Engineering Ratings and Officers! It’s like every other thing, just a step in the ladder to promotion!

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Because the swamp of “tradition” in which they are mired was flooded with swashbuckling heroes on the decks of sailing ships.

There are no heroes in the machinery spaces, just the unknowns, dead or alive who saved the ship.

After viewing the video, the problem became obvious. The budding admirals in the room only have a single row of medals!

Even this teenage E-3 airdale has accumulated more than those high ranking instructors!

Seriously though, reading that article just leaves this engineer shaking his head over the level of incompetence, stupidity, and arrogance at all levels. Except for the one enlisted guy with the balls to tell the “chief” what would happen, the whole lot need to be shitcanned. The Navy’s problems are not restricted to the few dozen wannabe admirals on the bridge at any time, they aren’t doing any better in the machinery spaces.

Which brings up the thought of WTF is the connection between an engine raw water pump and the fire main? If by some bizarre piping arrangement that pump is connected to the fire main, what kind of tell tail flows more water than a hose with an open nozzle? Did the idiot with the plug never see a drawing of a pump drive during his intensive Navy training before being allowed to “fix” a problem? Did anyone claim that plugging the tell tale solved the loss of fire main pressure? What kind moron “engineer” thinks seawater flows from the back side of a pump into the accessory drive case of an engine? The back story in this tale of incompetence and failed training has to be even more incredible than the incompetence that lead to the taxpayer funded debacle.


I’m not defending the Navy system and not to nitpick but I do have to wonder what level of understanding critics here of have of how the navy works.

No one in the video was wearing medals, nor is the E-3, you are probably referring to the ribbons, not close to the same thing.

When you say “chief” are your referring to a CPO (Chief Petty Officer)? It’s very possible that the "one enlisted guy " was in fact a chief.

Ribbons and medals are synonymous. I’m also sure he was referring to the chief engineer “cheng”.

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Ribbons and medals are synonymous. I’m also sure he was referring to the chief engineer “cheng”.

Well they’re not. Not all ribbons have medals, which is why when you wear medals you also wear ribbons on the right(in reverse order), to cover anything that doesn’t have a medal.

You only get the marksmanship medals if you qualify expert on a weapon, for instance. If you only shoot marksman or sharpshooter, you don’t get the medal. Just ribbons. (The three tiers are, in order: marksman, sharpshooter, and expert.)


I’m pretty sure most of those specific ribbons have medals associated with them (except the pistol), which goes back to the original point.

Correct on the “cheng.” I called him “chief” in parentheses because while he may have held the title of chief engineer he certainly was not in fact.

And I. like probably most others, consider ribbons and medals as synonymous. Maybe every ribbon doesn’t have a medal to go along with it but are there any medals that don’t have a ribbon for everday wear?

Does it really matter when the context of my cynical statement is that the heads of the instructional staff apparently have less operational experience than that E-3 teenager. Could they even identify a raw water pump if they were standing beside an engine?

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Maybe emergency sea water cooling is align-able with the fire main as a back up to the sea water service system, though not entirely sure. I’m definitely not an engineer.

Her Sea Service, Battle “E”, and Pistol don’t have medals with them.

The GWOT, GWOT:E, National Defense, and Humanitarian Service do.

Anyway, on the topic at hand:

We all saw this coming. I toured Freedom back in ~2011 or so when she first came to San Diego. They have no junior enlisted(nothing below an E-5), and the crew’s not trained or manned anywhere near what they need to actually do anything. They only ever stand 3-section watch rotations in a terrible rotation(back then, anyway), and 3-section duty when they’re the on-shift crew.

Oh, also they rotate crews every 3 months or so, or for deployments. No crew will ever spend more than 6 months a year onboard.

Why is there a lack of training in senior enlisted engineering ratings? Shouldn’t they be well versed in all aspects of engineering systems, especially the basic oversights seen here?

It’s less that they’re not trained at all, and more that they probably are less trained in newer systems. The Navy has stuff out in the fleet before the schoolhouses are really ready to support it and can effectively train to it, so a lot of it becomes OJT.

Couple that with the “put a job in to get civilians to come fix it for you” mentality that we have these days, and you get technicians who both don’t get a lot of training AND don’t learn how to actually fix anything, because the contractors come fix everything for you.

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Yes, a merchant mariner who knows nothing about the navy would almost certainly use the term “chief” without realizing the possibly of ambiguity. When I was in the CG it would not have never occurred to that “chief” referred to any thing but a CPO.

If someone has a good point to make the ribbon/medal thing is of no consequence.

Again I’m not defending the Navy system, I just wonder if some posters here have even a basic understanding of it.

The only ambiguity lies with someone looking for a nit to pick. The report linked in the OP referred to the “chief” being told by “a senior enlisted person” that seawater in the lube oil will destroy the engine.

I wrote "Except for the one enlisted guy with the balls to tell the “chief” what would happen … " My reference to the “chief” was far from ambiguous and any smoke screen about medals and ribbons and chief petty officers vs chief engineers is pure hubris on the part of the nitpickers who might prefer I did not call petty officers or pseudo chief engineers incompetent morons. If it were not for one single “senior enlisted person” stepping up to the plate the cost to the taxpayer would have been far greater.

The Navy is broken. It is lead by a gang of corrupt admirals who fail to provide the leadership necessary to prevent incompetent morons from killing the people they supervise or costing the taxpayer billions in waste and fraud.

News flash! Engine driven centrifugal seawater pumps are not “newer systems.” There are few components more visible on any marine diesel more common in function and appearance that have remained unchanged for more than a century than the engine driven seawater pump.

Virtually without exception they have a pipe connected to the center of a round body with another pipe connected tangentially on the periphery. On the side opposite the central pipe there is what looks like another pipe that is bolted to the engine itself. There is nearly always a hole or an opening in that “pipe” that is there to show anyone other than a Navy trained moron that the pump drive shaft seal is leaking, and surprise surprise is there to prevent water leaking from the pump from being forced into the accessory drive and contaminating the lube oil. This arrangement is normally taught in the first week of Introduction to Marine Propulsion … which they must not be teaching in Navy schools any more.


In case anyone wants to know what the moron was looking at when he plugged the leaking hole, here is an illustration of the engine make and model under discussion. Note the location and appearance of the seawater pump.

Getting back to the loss of fire main pressure, are they talking about the seawater main or the water mist system? There seems to be a lot of background information still kept in the background. Why would anyone think an engine driven seawater cooling pump would be related to the fire main pressure? Do they not expect to have fires when the engine is secured? I think the really interesting parts of this story are the bits they aren’t talking about.

“Newer to them”? If they are at least a fireman apprentice surely they have been shown what an engine driven pump looks like and what to look for when they are operating … well maybe not surely but it is not a reasonable assumption that anyone with the authority to plug a hole would know what the hole is in even if he didn’t know what was supposed to be on the other side of that hole. Did the moron think that big thundering hot piece of metal bolted to the leaking hole was part of the fire fighting system? Color me incredulous.

I was more meaning “newer to them”, though of course I don’t know their backgrounds. They may very well be senior ENs who are well-trained on diesels.

Enlisted detailing has never been the Navy’s strong point since I’ve been around, it’s entirely possible that their senior engine guys just came off 3-6 years of not doing anything with engines at all.

Case in point: On my current ship, not a single person in my division has ever used the system we own/run/maintain prior to coming aboard the ship. It’s newish, all the senior people were on older ships with different systems, all the newer people this is the first ship.

A diesel engine driven seawater pump is probably the oldest least changed piece of equipment in the Navy. Did the hole plugging moron think that hot and thundering piece of truck sized equipment bolted to the leaking hole was part of the fire system? Something as simple as an engine driven centrifugal pump is about as easy to remember as breathing once seen and handled. I think there are probably guys here who last saw one 30 years ago who could rebuild one today so the coming off shore duty excuse doesn’t cut it.

Which brings us to the question of what loss of fire main pressure are they talking (or more to the point, not talking) about? Don’t those boats use a water mist system that is pressurized with fresh water while the seawater mains are a separate system altogether and may or may not be pressurized at all times. We all know what happens when we charge a fire main that has a leaky valve at a hose station … I doubt those LCS systems are any different.

I think the whole story is not being told and it is easy to understand why it is not. If the water mist system pressure was leaking off what kind of idiot would think that was caused by a main engine driven seawater pump? They never mentioned what happened after the hole was plugged … did the fire main pressure go back to normal? Did anyone else check to see exactly what hole the moron plugged? That “report” pretends to explain what happened but as far as I am concerned it only begs a lot more questions, just like the explanations of why they can’t seem to drive a ship without running into someone else.