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    USS Boxer’s Troubled Waters: Sidelined Yet Again for Lengthy Repairs

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    In a revelation that underscores the ongoing maintenance struggles facing the U.S. Navy, the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD-4) is set for an extended 18-month maintenance period beginning in April 2025.

    Following a string of engineering issues, USS Boxer have haunted the vessel since its last successful deployment in 2019.

    Scheduled maintenance, announced on the government contracting website SAM.gov, will demand a “highly capable contractor with substantial human resources” to manage a myriad of ship maintenance, repair, and modernization tasks.

    The problems with USS Boxer have become emblematic of larger issues within the Navy’s surface fleet.

    An investigation attributed the failures to “lack of procedural compliance, substandard supervisory oversight, and general complacency by the crew.”

    In November 2022, two forced draft blowers in the steam plant of USS Boxer failed due to improper repairs.

    These blowers underwent multiple overhauls, resulting in oil and water leaks with each attempt.

    Examination by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) revealed the use of incorrect parts, misaligned machined sealing surfaces, and substandard reassembly techniques that did not meet compliance standards.

    In May 2023, USS Boxer encountered an unspecified incident during a boiler light-off, which the strike group commander attributed to complacency and a deviation from “sound shipboard operating principles.”

    Although the incident had the potential for severe injuries, fortunately, none of the crewmembers were harmed.

    In mid-July, the engineering team on USS Boxer needed to rotate the main reduction gear of the propulsion system for maintenance.

    Despite undergoing multiple rounds of retraining and receiving external assistance following previous incidents, they once again deviated from procedure.

    The team operated the main gearbox without lubrication for two hours and failed to inform the commanding officer of this potentially harmful decision until 27 hours later.

    Repetitive engineering mishaps, including an incident with the propulsion system’s main reduction gear and oil and water leaks from forced draft blowers, have emphasized the need for both technical rectification and a shift in the operational culture.

    Despite the Navy’s anticipation to resolve the ship’s recent rudder problem pierside, the service has signalled that this will be just a prelude to a much more extensive maintenance stay. “This planned SRA period is not directly connected to the ongoing rudder repairs. Major depot maintenance availabilities like this SRA are programmed years in advance.”

    Relevant articles:
    Amphib Boxer soon to be sidelined again for 18 months of maintenance, Breaking Defense
    DARPA green lights Aurora, Bell for next phase in SPRINT X, Breaking Defense
    Amphib USS Boxer Sidelined by “General Complacency” and Breakdowns, The Maritime Executive
    USS Boxer makes U-turn for repairs on long-delayed, short-lived Indo-Pacific tour, Stars and Stripes

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