Amphib USS Boxer Cuts Short Deployment After Another Engineering Casualty

USS Boxer with helicopter
USS Boxer (USN file image)

Published Apr 15, 2024 4:17 PM by The Maritime Executive

Just 10 days after deploying to the Indo-Pacific, the amphib USS Boxer has turned around to head back to port for repairs, Navy officials have confirmed to USNI and Military.com. It is the latest setback in a long string of maintenance-related delays for the Boxer, and further extends her time off-hire. 

At the time of the casualty, Boxer was operating in the Pacific and conducting exercises with a Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey squadron. That squadron has disembarked and Boxer is returning to port. The nature of the casualty was not disclosed. 

Boxer has been in various phases of repair and preparation since 2022, and the process has been repeatedly delayed by maintenance quality and operational problems. The previous delays all come down to human factors and contractor skill level, according to a recent command investigation.

In November 2022, two of the forced draft blowers on USS Boxer's steam plant failed, the victims of improper repairs. They were overhauled multiple times, and suffered oil and water leaks every time. An examination by the OEM found that improper parts were used, machined sealing surfaces did not line up, and reassembly techniques were substandard and noncompliant. 

In May 2023, USS Boxer experienced an unspecified incident during a boiler light-off, which the strike group commander attributed to complacency and a departure from "sound shipboard operating principles." The incident could have resulted in severe injuries, but no crewmembers were harmed. In mid-July 2023, Boxer's engineering team spun the main gearbox for two hours without lubrication, and did not notify the commanding officer of this potentially damaging decision until 27 hours later. 

"Every level of senior engineering leadership failed to provide a safe, professional, and procedurally compliant work environment in engineering department. These failures had direct, measurable impacts on USS Boxer's upcoming deployment and impeded the overall accomplishment of the strike group's mission," concluded the expeditionary strike group's commander last year.

The chief of naval operations, Adm. Lisa Franchetti, has ordered a "deep-dive" review of the problems aboard USS Boxer and other amphibs in the fleet. "I think there's some good lessons learned with Boxer," Franchetti told media at a defense conference last week.