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Navy says it will study ship repair delays as USS Boxer deployment stalls

Just 10 Days into its deployment, USS Boxer returned to San Diego for repairs. KPBS Military Reporter Andrew Dyer says it’s the latest in a series of mechanical setbacks that have delayed the ship for years.

A new Navy and Marine Corps study will take a "deep dive" into the ongoing maintenance and repair delays on amphibious ships, the Navy's top officer said last week.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti made the announcement days before one of those ships — the San Diego-based USS Boxer — was forced to return to San Diego for repairs just 10 days into a deployment to the western Pacific.

Maintenance on Navy surface ships has been an issue for years, said Brad Martin, a retired Navy captain who once led an amphibious squadron.


"I think it is absolutely fair to say that the Navy has not historically done a good job managing the surface ship maintenance requirement," said Martin, now a senior policy researcher at the Rand Corporation.

The Boxer began a $200 million overhaul in 2020 that would allow the ship to operate with the newest Marine Corps fighter, the F-35B.

The ship went to sea briefly in June 2022 but a major engine component that had been overhauled failed, a Navy investigation found. Then, the replacement parts failed.

The ship was furthered delayed after two more incidents an investigation said were due to crew complacency, poor training and a toxic command environment.

The Boxer remained pier-side in San Diego until last summer, KPBS previously reported.


The ship was commissioned in 1995. Martin said the Navy's amphibious fleet is showing its age.

"This type of thing is more common than it ought to be and it is something that the Navy is going to have to deal with, especially given that a lot of the ships are getting old," Martin said. "As they get old, they are harder to maintain."

The ship left for its long-delayed deployment with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit on April 1.

The Navy hasn't said what is wrong with the ship now, but a Navy official told KPBS Monday it needs repairs on its rudder.

The ship is expected to be delayed two to three weeks, the official said.

Franchetti told reporters April 8 the Boxer isn't the only ship struggling after being overhauled to fly F-35Bs. The Virginia-based USS Wasp is also looking at possible delays.