Top Navy Leader Has Ordered 'Deep Dive' on Amphibious Ship Readiness After Delays with USS Boxer

The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) steams in the Pacific Ocean.
The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) steams in the Pacific Ocean, April 4, 2024. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Connor Burns/U.S. Navy photo)

The Navy's top officer says that she ordered a "deep dive" into maintenance and readiness issues following the amphibious ship USS Boxer's monthslong deployment delay that finally ended last week.

"I think there's some good lessons learned with Boxer," Adm. Lisa Franchetti told a small group of reporters Monday at the Navy's annual Sea-Air-Space conference just outside Washington, D.C.

"Overall, we're going to learn a lot through this deep dive, where we can really understand what are the challenges with amphib readiness," Franchetti added.

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A defense official told in March that the Boxer was originally supposed to deploy late last year; however, a series of delays and mechanical issues that were driven, at least in part, by poor leadership aboard the ship kept it in port for months.

Franchetti said that she ordered the inquiry, led by three-star admirals in the Navy's operations and plans and policy offices, in February and expects they will come to her with initial recommendations on how to proceed "in the May timeframe, and that will start to outline the shape of the the deep dive going forward."

The Boxer's issues were documented as far back as July when the ship, fresh out of a shipyard overhaul, hadn't set sail in more than a year.

Franchetti said that overhaul, notably retrofitting the nearly 30-year-old ship's flight deck to support the new F-35B Lightning II strike fighter, could have been part of the issue.

"That's taking time when they go in for their upgrades, and that's taking a little bit longer than expected," she said.

However, the four-star admiral argued that the sea service is being proactive and trying to contain any delays to just the Boxer, pointing specifically at the USS Wasp amphibious assault ship.

"We're seeing some potential delays on Wasp. … We're trying to look ahead to make sure that we can, I want to say … nip this in the bud," she said.

Ship watchers spotted the USS Wasp -- the same class of ship as the Boxer -- depart Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, in early March only to return shortly afterward, apparently with tugs alongside it. Those social media posts also cited intercepted radio traffic saying the ship suffered an engineering breakdown with its driveshaft.

Lt. Cmdr. Dave Carter, a spokesman for Surface Force Atlantic, told that "during the underway, the ship discovered an engineering irregularity" and "returned to port to effect repairs."

The ship apparently got underway again at the end of March without issue.

Related: At Least 3 Engineering Incidents and Poor Leadership Kept USS Boxer from Deploying, Investigations Reveal

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