ALAMEDA, Calif.— The Navy’s beleaguered littoral combat ship (LCS) program experienced another embarrassment this week, as its newest addition to the fleet suffered an 18-inch crack to its aluminum hull after being struck with a customary bottle of champagne during the vessel’s christening on Saturday.
Officials estimate the damage to the future Freedom-class USS Fresno (LCS-27) could be in the tens of millions.
“Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Fresno sustained a significant structural laceration this morning, as the result of having been targeted by a rotund foreign object,” read an official statement released by the Commander of Naval Surface Forces Pacific.
“Specifically,” the statement continued, “said object has been identified as a 2014 bottle of Korbel, which was wielded at a high rate of velocity against Fresno’s bow by the ship’s honorary sponsor, Emma Jean Devereaux.”
Devereaux has since been identified as “Little Miss Strawberry Patch 2016,” a 17-year-old rural Fresno County beauty pageant winner.
Sources report that Devereaux — who suffers from cerebral palsy, and is the pageant’s first disabled contestant to be crowned — was reduced to tears after unintentionally having set the Navy’s LCS program back untold millions of dollars by courageously finding the strength to tap a three-pound, $10.00 bottle of alcohol against the hull of a 3,500-ton, $362-million warship— only to see her efforts result in tragedy.
The damage to PCU Fresno is merely the latest in a long line of mishaps suffered by the Navy’s eight-year-old LCS program.
In Sep. 2016, USS Montgomery (LCS-8) suffered a pair of engineering casualties while in transit in the Gulf of Mexico. During the month of August, USS Coronado (LCS-4) also suffered an engineering casualty, which came just days after the flagship of the entire LCS program, USS Freedom (LCS-1), needed an entire engine replacement due to a flood of seawater into the ship’s lube oil system.
And — perhaps most embarrassingly — USS Omaha (LCS-12) failed to launch in Sep. 2015, when the Navy realized that there were no major bodies of water within any close proximity to the ship’s namesake city (The vessel later plummeted onto its side in a corn field).
“This whole thing with the champaign bottle is really just a minor setback, and the ship will be seaworthy once she’s gone through some minor repairs,” said Cmdr. Lawrence McNeil, commanding officer of PCU Fresno.
“What really matters is that little Emma Jean — God bless her — found the strength to swing that bottle of Korbel, because the Navy is all about people before anything else.”
At press time, the Navy announced that it relieved McNeil from command of PCU Fresno, citing a "loss of confidence and ability to lead."