USS San Antonio: Still a Mess

Oil leak aboard USS San Antonio (LPD 17)

Oil leak aboard USS San Antonio (LPD 17)

Photos show extent of oil leaks on LPD 17

The Navy on Monday confirmed the authenticity of photos revealing corrosion and oil leaks aboard the amphibious transport dock San Antonio, which began circulating on the Internet over the weekend. But a Navy spokeswoman added that the damage did not pose a danger to sailors and Marines on the deployed ship.

Meanwhile, the lube oil system leaks, which forced the ship into a repair yard in Bahrain on Oct. 31 in the middle of its maiden deployment, are expected to take longer to fix than a previously expected two weeks, Pat Dolan, spokeswoman for Naval Sea Systems Command, said Monday.

Pulling a deployed ship into the yard for repairs isn’t exactly the way things are supposed to go. Ship builders often complain about the Navy’s shifting requirements, and that’s a fair point. But revised plans don’t explain shoddy construction. Did some yard worker weld poorly one day because the Navy decided to change something?

More images below.

Not the way the print had it

Not the way the print had it

In port because of things like this

In port because of things like this

That gap looks big enough for a career to leak out

That gap looks big enough for a career to leak out

Do they duct tape this when they batten down the hatches?

Do they duct tape this when they batten down the hatches?

It doesn’t seem that the USS San Antonio is ever going to be right.

These and many more from a PDF.


  1. Those are bad welds. Obvious bad welds. Having a weld like that get anywhere close to being placed in service on any of the projects I’ve been on in the petrochemical industry would result in having an inspector and quite likely, a welder or welding contractor run off the job.

    If it came from a fabrication shop to my project, they’d be watching their contract work its way through a paper shredder.

    That’s just plain shoddy and inexcusable.


  2. In my mind, this comes back to the same reason that the big US auto companies are on the skids. Push profit, cost cutting, and anything else to put more money into the pockets of stock holders and board members. The welder might not have known his butt from a porthole, but people like that don’t find work at a company by accident. And mistakes like that don’t make it past inspection by accident either.

    When it’s cost cutting so you can get your Chinese made widget to the shelves of Wallmart for twenty five percent less, its a little more understandable. Still annoying, and I yearn for a time when things weren’t made to be thrown away six months from purchase. But doing so on a vessel that will take Americans into harms way is total B.S.

  3. I’m no welder… therefore I’m not sure if a bad weld can be spotted by eye! It could be that these welds are perfectly good – why does everybody say they are bad?

    Personally I think that the cause instantly looks like fatigue cracking to me, especially “That gap looks big enough for a career to leak out” picture, as you can see the crack exenting into the pipe material, which begs to say… that pipe material was just as affected as the weld.

    Welding leaves residual thermal stresses in the material and it could be that the material was not properly post-weld treated. This could easily have caused cracking.

    The other common reason could be vibration. If there is vibration that is at a high enough frequency then the weld would possibly just fatigue under normal conditions.

    Stress corrosion could also be a cause for fatigue – especially if there are different metals used for the weld material.

    Any of these explanations seem more plausible as otherwise you could just replace the pipes or fix the weld – which would take the two weeks stated.

  4. Vstress – What you say is plausible if this was an old ship, but the USS San Antonio was commission in 2006. This ship is lemon and needs to be returned to the builder.

  5. Ok, so then substandard steal was used, or post weld inspections were not made. Don’t they use X-rays to check welds? I remember seeing something like that on a documentary of the building of the new east span for the Bay Bridge here in the SF bay area. They were being thorough as hell on that bridge, because of earthquake activity in this area. No room for compromise, or “good enough.” If the weld was not up to standards, it was scrapped and done over, on the contractors dime no less.

  6. Well, that is a classic case of pretty not being functional. The welds LOOK good, but it looks like there was poor preparation of the material, some bad design maybe, and the welder didn’t know how to weld two pieces of dissimilar thickness materials together.
    And a good weld is stronger than the surrounding materials. The metal should fail LONG before the weld does.
    Like Nadnerbus said above, the welds simply should have been inspected, failed and redone with no room for compromise. We aren’t talking about a pole fence here.

  7. I don’t see how anyone can comment on these welds with out knowing the specific requirements for design of the tubular connections {statically or cyclically}.Knowing the parameters of the joint fit up material,pre heat and post heat and weld wire is KEY in this inspection. I’m not sugar coating the welds “but” there were noticable indications in the base material.

  8. Victor: You’re right. I don’t know the specific requirements for the design. Was leaking oil part of the design?

  9. I dont care what these welds look like or what kind of work was done on this boat. The only thing that matters to me is that the boat is safe. My husband is on there and I want to know that I have nothing to worry about.

  10. kellyputz: I don’t think anyone is concerned about the safety of the ship. It’s the San Antonio’s ability to complete combat missions if needed that is in question.

  11. I understand that it sucks to have to have one of our newest ships on the first deployment it has ever been on have problems and go into a shipyard for repairs. But rest assured that everyone was safe, the ship couldve trucked on with out repairing the problem. We have to remember that this is the first of its kind, so problems will happen- trial and error. i blame the maker of the ship.

Comments are closed