Northrop Grumman working to fix warship welding issues

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - The Navy says welding issues have surfaced on board warships recently built at Northrop Grumman shipyards in Pascagoula and Avondale. While the problems don't pose an immediate threat to the ships, the faulty welding is a concern to both the Navy and the ship builder.

Northrop Grumman released a statement to WLOX News Friday about the welding issues. As soon as the faulty welds were discovered, Northrop Grumman says it initiated actions to recertify 100 percent of the pipe inspectors and pipe welders.

"Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding is committed to building quality ships for our customers, and we'll be actively participating in a LPD review panel the Navy is developing to examine the design, construction, operations and maintenance segments of the LPD 17 program.  The team will focus on identifying and understanding the root causes and implementing the appropriate corrective actions. In the meantime, we're proactively working in partnership with the Navy in all aspects of their analysis and efforts with regard to these ships."

The statement continued, "Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding has been working closely with the Navy for several months to address pipe welding issues.  From the time the issues with pipe were discovered, Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding proactively has worked with the Navy to perform a root cause analysis and initiate corrective actions.

Inspections on welded pipes built by Northrop Grumman's Gulf Coast operation have indicated that some of the pipe joints do not meet the customer's specifications. During initial root cause and corrective action assessment, it was quickly determined that this is not a safety issue but one that may impact the service life of the ship.

When the issue with the pipe welds was discovered, we initiated actions to recertify 100 percent of the pipe inspectors and pipe welders, and significantly increased our inspection approach on piping systems.   These efforts are consistent with the company's intense focus on improving the quality in the Gulf Coast through implementation of a broad set of operating process changes.

We have teamed with our Navy customer in this effort as we conduct a thorough and comprehensive review of all of our ships.  While this review and corrective action is ongoing, the Navy customer has determined that ships are safe to go to sea for builder and acceptance trials.

Our senior leadership is personally engaged and focused on working with teams to assess and correct issues. Our sense of urgency is centered around our focus on operational integrity and compliance to the requirements.  We are treating this issue on all of our ships with technical rigor and we are implementing solutions to prevent this kind of occurrence in the future."

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