Littoral combat ships have the unique ability to be part of customizable surface warfare, mine warfare or anti-submarine warfare mission packages, providing fleet commanders significant capability and flexibility.
Currently deployed to the 7th Fleet area of responsibility in support of the Indo-Asia-Pacific rebalance, littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) is embarked with a surface warfare mission package operated by the “Shepherds” of Surface Warfare Mission Package, Det. 3.
Lt. Cmdr. Jason Nelson, officer in charge of the “Shepherds”, said:
There are three different types of mission packages in the LCS program.
The surface warfare, mine countermeasures or anti-submarine warfare mission packages allow these ships to have flexibility based on the operating environment it may be going into. This adds capabilities to enable the ship to execute missions for specific geographic areas like Southeast Asia.
The surface warfare mission package includes two six-member visit, board, search and seizure teams, two 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boats, two 30mm Mark 50 gun systems and an aviation detachment that includes one MH-60R Seahawk helicopter and one MQ-8B unmanned aircraft system.
When combined with the LCS hull’s speed, shallow draft and the fixed 57mm gun and rolling airframe missile launcher, these additional capabilities make Fort Worth an ideal fit for maritime security operations.
The ship itself doesn’t have these capabilities on its own. Our job is to bring that to an LCS ship.
Though customizable, Fort Worth will employ the surface warfare package for the entirety of its 16-month deployment.
Mission packages are rotatable and can be swapped out based on new needs. It does take some time and coordination, but it can be done in about a week or so.
Using the 3-2-1 manning concept the surface warfare mission package detachment, along with the embarked aviation detachment from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35, rotate along with the core crew, currently LCS Crew 104, about every four months. The 3-2-1 manning concept allows Fort Worth to deploy longer without wearing out the crews and detachments.
Press release, Image: US Navy