The US Navy's new littoral combat ships can't seem to catch a break lately, CNN reports, with its brand-new USS Montgomery recently suffering hull damage while passing through the Panama Canal. While under the control of a Panama Canal pilot, the warship hit the center lock wall and suffered an 18-inch hull crack. "The crack is located 8-10 feet above the waterline and poses no water intrusion or stability risk," the Navy said in a statement; the ship continued on through the canal to its port in San Diego for repairs. It's the latest in a series of mishaps for the Montgomery: the $360 million state-of-the-art warship just entered official service two months ago, and it's now suffered two hull breaches, as well as problems with its cooling systems and gas turbine engines.
The Montgomery is part of a new class of vessels called littoral combat ships. Designed by Lockheed-Martin, the ships are made for near-shore operations, but they've become better known for running into technical problems, including breakdowns. The US Navy has ordered a comprehensive review of the littoral program after at least four of the vessels experienced mechanical failures, reports the International Business Times. The Navy hopes to quadruple the current number of littoral ships, from seven to 28. (These huge naval bases once guarded the world's first democracy.)