The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) departed its homeport of San Diego Nov. 17 for a 16-month rotational deployment to Singapore in support of the US Navy’s strategic rebalance to the Pacific.
Building on the achievements of USS Freedom’s (LCS 1) inaugural 10-month deployment to Southeast Asia from March to December 2013, Fort Worth will visit more ports, engage more regional navies during exercises like Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) and expand LCS capabilities, including embarking and using the MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV).
Vice Adm. Kenneth E. Floyd, U.S. 3rd Fleet commander, said:
There is no doubt that LCS brings an enhanced capability to the Asia-Pacific region.
We are proud of the crews for the countless hours of hard work in preparation for this inaugural deployment and we’re looking forward to Fort Worth building on the successes and lessons learned from Freedom’s deployment last year.
Fort Worth, with embarked LCS Crew 104, recently completed its final certifications for its deployment during Task Group Exercise off the coast of Southern California.
After departing San Diego, Fort Worth will visit ports in Hawaii and Guam before arriving in its maintenance and logistics hub of Singapore. The ship will remain homeported in San Diego and all crew members will live aboard.
Fort Worth is the first LCS to deploy under the “3-2-1” manning concept, swapping fully trained crews roughly every four months. This concept will allow Fort Worth to deploy six months longer than Freedom, which swapped crews once in 10 months, extending LCS forward presence and reducing crew fatigue for the 16-month deployment. It is named 3-2-1 because three rotational crews will support two LCS ships and maintain one deployed ship.
Like Freedom, Fort Worth will employ the surface warfare mission package for the entire deployment, to include two 30 mm guns, two 11-meter rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIB) and two 8-member maritime security boarding teams.
For the first time, Fort Worth will also deploy with an aviation detachment from the “Magicians” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35, the Navy’s first composite expeditionary helicopter squadron. The aviation detachment will consist of one MH-60R Seahawk helicopter and one MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned autonomous helicopter. The Fire Scout will complement the MH-60R by extending the range and endurance thereby enhancing maritime domain awareness.
Cmdr. Kendall Bridgewater, LCS Crew 104 commanding officer, said:
The crew has put in long hours and hard work to ensure both they and the ship are ready for Fort Worth’s maiden deployment.
We look forward to arriving in theater and quickly becoming a valuable asset to the 7th Fleet commander, engaging with our allies and partner nations in the Pacific.
This is the second overseas deployment of the Navy’s LCS platform. Fast, agile and mission-focused, LCS is designed to operate in near-shore environments and employ modular mission packages that can be configured for surface warfare, mine countermeasures, or anti-submarine warfare.
Press release, Image: US Navy