Navy relieves commander after gear damage sidelines LCS


The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Naval Institute (USNI):

(WASHINGTON) — The current commander of USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) was relieved following early results of an ongoing investigation into a propulsion casualty that cut short the operational deployment of the littoral combat ship to Singapore, Navy officials told USNI News on Monday.

Cmdr. Michael L. Atwell, formerly the commanding officer of LCS Crew 101, was relieved of his position on Monday as a direct result of the investigation following the Jan. 12 propulsion casualty that has left the ship sidelined in Singapore.

While the investigation, initiated by the Singapore-based Task Force 73, is ongoing, there was enough information to relieve Atwell, said Lt. Clint Ramsden, a Pacific Fleet spokesman.

Atwell’s “failure to maintain procedural compliance in execution of the maintenance operation was sufficient reason to call into question his ability to lead the ship’s crew,” Ramsden said.

The incident damaged the complex gearing mechanism that links the ship’s gas turbines and ship’s diesel engines, and now the Navy is currently weighing options to repair the ship either in Asia or back in the U.S. — likely San Diego, Calif.

Atwell, a career surface warfare officer with time on frigates, carriers and destroyers, was previously the executive officer of LCS Crew 101 before fleeting up to lead the ship, according to a Navy biography.

LCS crews operate under a 3-2-1 manning construct in which three crews support two ships, one of which is always forward. LCS Crew 101 had taken control of the ship in November.

Following Atwell’s removal he was assigned to LCS Squadron 1 in San Diego.

“Cmdr. Lex Walker, deputy commodore, Destroyer Squadron 7, will assume temporary duties as commanding officer until a permanent relief is assigned,” the service said in a statement.

“Based on initial indications, the casualty occurred due to an apparent failure to follow procedures during an operational test of the port and starboard main propulsion diesel engines,” Lt. Cmdr. Matt Knight, a spokesman with U.S. Pacific Fleet, told USNI News in January.

By Professional Mariner Staff