USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) arrived in Singapore Dec. 29 as part of a 16-month rotational deployment to 7th Fleet in support of the Indo-Asia-Pacific rebalance.
As part of an initiative to deploy up to four LCS to the region on a rotational basis, Fort Worth will operate out of Singapore as a maintenance and logistics hub from which the ship will conduct patrols and train with regional navies during exercises like Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training.
“The much-anticipated arrival of Fort Worth speaks to our important partnership with the Republic of Singapore Navy and to our shared commitment to regional security and stability,” said Rear Adm. Charlie Williams, commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific and commander, U.S. 7th Fleet’s Task Force 73. “As multiple LCS deployments become routine, ships like Fort Worth will become workhorses in 7th Fleet.”
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 allows Fort Worth to deploy six months longer than the 2013 USS Freedom (LCS 1) deployment and twice as long as typical U.S. Navy ship deployments, extending LCS forward presence and reducing crew fatigue for the entire 16-month deployment. It is named 3-2-1 because three rotational crews will support two LCS ships and maintain one deployed ship.
“Fort Worth’s arrival marks the dawn of a continuous LCS presence in the Asia-Pacific, bringing more flexibility and capability to U.S. 7th Fleet,” said Capt. Fred Kacher, commodore, Destroyer Squadron 7. “The next 15-months will be busy for Fort Worth and she will operate extensively throughout Southeast Asia in support of CARAT 2015, as well as expanding her operational footprint to Northeast Asia.”
In addition to presence in nearly every phase of CARAT 2015 in South and Southeast Asia, Fort Worth will train with the Republic of Korea Navy in exercise Foal Eagle and is scheduled to join multinational ships at Singapore’s Changi Naval Base for the International Maritime Defence Exhibition (IMDEX). Fort Worth will also expand LCS regional presence by using additional expeditionary maintenance locations in Northeast Asia.
Fort Worth is embarked with an aviation detachment from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35, the Navy’s first composite expeditionary helicopter squadron. The detachment consists of one MH-60R Seahawk helicopter and one MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aircraft system. The Fire Scout will complement the MH-60R by extending the HSM-35’s range and endurance thereby enhancing maritime domain awareness.
“Arriving in Singapore is a significant milestone for Fort Worth and her crew,” said Cmdr. Kendall Bridgewater, LCS Crew 104 commanding officer. “We’re excited to be in Singapore and are ready to get back out to sea and work with regional navies.”
Since departing San Diego Nov. 17, Fort Worth transited the Pacific Ocean, visited Hawaii to conduct joint operations, stopped in Guam to refuel and stopped in Jakarta, Indonesia for a 5-day port visit. Fort Worth will spend the remaining 15 months of her deployment operating from Singapore and will return to her homeport in San Diego in 2016.
Fast, agile and mission-focused, littoral combat ships are 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. Fort Worth will employ the surface warfare mission package for her entire deployment, augmenting her 57mm gun and rolling airframe missile launcher with two 30mm guns, two 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boats and two eight-member maritime security boarding teams. With more fuel capacity than Freedom, Fort Worth can refuel less often and stay on patrol longer.