A brand-new U.S. Navy warship suffered an 18-inch crack to its hull while passing through the Panama Canal en route to San Diego.
The USS Montgomery has been in service less than two months. The Independence-class littoral combat ship hit a cement structure as it headed west through the locks Saturday, the Navy said in a statement to CNN. At the time, a Panama Canal pilot was in control.
"The crack is located 8-10 feet above the waterline and poses no water intrusion or stability risk," the Navy said. The ship continued on its way to San Diego, where it is expected to arrive next month.
USNI News reported the damage was the latest in a series of mishaps to strike the $360 million Montgomery since it was commissioned in September. The first time it tried to enter the Panama Canal on Sept. 13, the crew spotted a seawater leak in the hydraulic cooling system. Later that same day, one of the gas turbine engines failed.
Navy Times reported the ship collided with a tug as it tried to get out of the path of Hurricane Matthew Oct. 4. The collision produced a foot-long crack along a seam about 3 feet above the waterline.
The Montgomery isn’t the only littoral running into problems. The Navy ordered a major overhaul of the program in September, demoting the first four vessels to test status and limiting their overseas use to emergencies.
The decision came following the breakdown of the USS Freedom and the USS Coronado. Earlier the USS Fort Worth and the USS Milwaukee had suffered mechanical failures.
The Navy relieved two littoral commanders of duty as a result of the incidents. Vice Admiral Tom Rowden also ordered a stand down for all crews for retraining, the Diplomat reported.
Currently seven littorals are in service, the most recent commissioned, the USS Detroit, last month. The first was commissioned in 2008. The Navy plans to increase that number to 28. The Coronado currently is in Singapore as part of the U.S. 7th Fleet.