USS San Antonio encounters more problems

Nov. 11, 2008 at 3:35 PM
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SAN ANTONIO, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- The troubled-plagued USS San Antonio, a new ship already $1 billion over budget, has encountered oil leaks on its maiden deployment, military officials said.

The ship, whose construction costs ballooned from $644 million to $1.8 billion, has docked in Bahrain and the U.S. Navy has sent a 40-member team to inspect and repair its leaking pipes, the San Antonio Express-News reported Tuesday.

The USS San Antonio, which has long been promoted by the Navy for its stealthy design and advanced features, has also seen a series of setbacks such as construction delays, design flaws, cost overruns and an unsuccessful sea trial, the newspaper said.

It's among a new class of four landing dock ships built by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, which says it can survive the intense air pressure generated by a nuclear blast as well as radioactive fallout and biological weapons. But its troubles began even before its keel was laid in 2000 due to untested computer design programs.

"This is yet another sad story from the ongoing disaster otherwise known as naval shipbuilding," Winslow Wheeler, a former national security aide to Republican and Democratic senators, told the Express-News.

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