The USS Boxer arrives at Naval Base San Diego in November 2019.

The USS Boxer arrives at Naval Base San Diego in November 2019. (Howard Lipin, The San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)

SAN DIEGO (Tribune News Service) — The USS Boxer, one of the Navy’s key “mini-carriers,” has left San Diego for the Indo-Pacific following a series of costly engineering problems a Navy probe says could have been avoided.

The 843-foot amphibious assault ship, which carries a mix of aircraft, deployed on Monday for the first time in five years. Such ships more commonly deploy every year or two, if they’re not undergoing extended maintenance.

The Boxer had experienced three significant engineering failures that a Navy review obtained by KPBS found were caused, at least in part, by cost-cutting, under-skilled workers, complacency and poor leadership.

The delays caused deep concern in the Navy because the Boxer was needed to help maintain an American presence in the Indo-Pacific, where China has threatened to invade Taiwan.

Now that the ship is underway, the Boxer will serve as the flagship of an Amphibious Ready Group that includes Camp Pendleton’s 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

The ARG also includes two other large, San Diego-based amphibious warships, the USS Somerset and USS Harpers Ferry, both of which deployed earlier.

The Marines will deploy their new amphibious combat vehicle for the first time during this deployment.

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