The Navy’s first littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam March 11.
The ultra- modern U.S. Navy ship, bearing a four-color camouflage combination of flat black, haze gray, haze white and ocean gray, arrived at Pearl Harbor after departing her homeport of San Diego to deploy to the Asia-Pacific region.
Following a brief port visit, USS Freedom will deploy to Southeast Asia and Singapore for approximately eight months. Marking the first of many planned rotational deployments to the Western Pacific for the new LCS platform, Freedom will conduct maritime security operations with regional partners and allies.
The ship was specially created to be able to maneuver in areas of water difficult for many larger Navy ships. The littoral zone refers to the part of a sea, lake or river that is close to the shore.
“This vessel, the littoral combat ship, is really designed for operating in the littoral shores of the land, what we commonly refer to as brown water,” said Cmdr. Timothy Wilke, USS Freedom commanding officer. “It does have a capability to operate in blue water, but it’s mainly focused on bridging that gap of what we have in our ship class right now.”
After making initial port visits in Hawaii and Guam, Freedom is expected to participate in the International Maritime Defense Exhibition and Conference (IMDEX) in Singapore and in select phases of the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series in Southeast Asia.
“Getting this ship out on this deployment is just important, and it is really unique that it is occurring on the heels of a week that ends on the 15th of our anniversary for the 3rd Fleet and the 7th Fleet,” said Adm. Cecil D. Haney, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet. “This deployment will also capstone looking at the operational concepts; minimal manning, maintenance, and the business of rotational presence for this class of ship.”
Haney also talked about the ship’s crew and their responsibilities with the new ship.
“Freedom’s maiden deployment is another clear signal of the Navy’s enduring commitment to maintain security and stability in the vital Asia-Pacific Region. Rotationally deploying our new littoral combat ships improves our warfighting capability and directly supports the Navy’s rebalance strategy to the Asia-Pacific,” said Haney.
During the first-ever LCS deployment, Freedom will demonstrate her operational capabilities and allow the Navy to evaluate crew rotation and maintenance plans. Fast, agile, and mission-focused, LCS platforms are designed to employ modular mission packages that can be configured for three separate purposes: surface warfare, mine countermeasures, or anti-submarine warfare. Freedom will be initially manned by her “Gold” crew of 91 Sailors to include mission package personnel and an aviation detachment to operate an embarked MH-60 helicopter.
Freedom will remain homeported in San Diego throughout this rotational deployment to Southeast Asia. Midway through Freedom’s deployment, a crew-swap will be conducted with her “Blue” crew, commanded by Cmdr. Patrick C. Thien.
The 378-foot Freedom was constructed at Marinette Marine Corporation, Marinette, Wis., and was the first naval vessel to be built and commissioned on the Great Lakes since World War II. LCS is a fast, agile, focused-mission platform designed for operation in near-shore environments yet capable of open-ocean operation. It is designed to defeat asymmetric threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft.
Naval Today Staff, March 13, 2013; Image: US Navy