The USS Boxer, one of the Navy's amphibious warships, is struggling to get to sea despite recently coming out of a maintenance period that cost the Navy $200 million and was supposed to ready the ship for the service’s newest fighter jet.
The Boxer was supposed to go to sea on July 21 but couldn’t “because of ongoing maintenance issues,” Cmdr. Arlo Abrahamson, a spokesman for the Naval Surface Force, told Military.com in a statement.
The Navy did not offer details on what issues specifically kept the ship in port, citing “operational security,” but Abrahamson was clear that “the Boxer’s preparation for sea trials identified additional maintenance requirements before the ship could get underway.”
The problems for the Boxer come at a time when they should be least expected -- about a year after the ship left a maintenance period that began in the summer of 2020 and cost $200 million, according to a statement from BAE systems, the contractor for the work.
The most notable upgrade was a new deck that would be able to support the new F-35B Lightning II strike fighter. However, the ship also received work on its hull as well as tank and mechanical work and “other shipboard improvements,” according to BAE’s statement.
The ship began its service in the Navy in 1995, nearly 30 years ago.
Abrahamson confirmed that the Boxer completed this maintenance period "in mid-2022, undergoing upgrades and modernizations to the ship” while other Navy statements highlighted the fact that this overhaul lasted “more than two years.”
After the maintenance period, the ship briefly put to sea in June 2022. Images posted online show the ship at sea with an F-35B fighter flying near the ship’s deck. However, it appears that's the only time the ship managed to set sail since leaving the shipyards.
Abrahamson said that after this cruise, the "Boxer executed additional maintenance requirements in preparation for its sea trial period," but those sea trials have yet to take place.
"The ship expects to begin sea trials in the near future as part of its workup cycle for deployment," Abrahamson said.
Military.com also previously reported that the Boxer had an incident on a 2016 deployment in which its sailors were ordered to dump fuel overboard. That incident resulted in fuel-contaminated drinking water and suspected health impacts for the sailors aboard.
Now, Abrahamson said that "the ship's crew remains focused on readiness and preparing for sea trials and the eventual deployment of the ship."
Editor's Note: This story was updated to remove a reference to a shipboard fire after the Navy disputed the account.
-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.