Sailors from littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) completed final certifications for the ship’s inaugural deployment while underway participating in Task Group Exercise (TGEX) Oct. 23-31.
Fort Worth Crews 103 and 104, along with guided-missile destroyers USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) and USS Milius (DDG 69), used TGEX as their final opportunity to certify prior to deployment.
Cmdr. Kendall Bridgewater, LCS Crew 104s commanding officer, said:
This means that our long preparations have finally come to a completion.
Through our LCS training facility work ups, coming on-hull and finally putting it all together integrating LCS into a strike group environment, we’ve shown a lot of the unique capabilities that an LCS can bring to the table.
The crew began with unit-level preparation by doing simulator-based training to prepare for different warfare areas. Once the crew boarded Fort Worth they continued with more advanced training and attaining basic crew qualifications.
All of this training culminated with final certification during TGEX when the crew was put to the test with scenarios based off of situations the crew could face while deployed.
According to Lt. Michael Chestnut, LCS Crew 104 operations officer, it was no small feat getting to this point.
We have all the same requirements that a traditional ship in the Navy has, we just happen to have a fraction of the people.
Bridgewater spoke about what the upcoming deployment means for the LCS program as a whole:
This deployment, it’s important we show that an LCS can be an added asset in theater.
We have to be able to perform a majority of missions of a destroyer and frigate and more.
Building on the achievements of USS Freedom’s (LCS 1) inaugural 10-month deployment to Southeast Asia from March to December 2013, Fort Worth is scheduled to deploy in November.
Fort Worth is the second ship of the Freedom variant for LCS, and is a semi-planing steel monohull with an aluminum superstructure. The ship can reach speeds in excess of 40 knots.
Press release, Image: US Navy