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Littoral Combat Ship Freedom Sorties from Singapore to Validate LCS Concept of Operations

The U.S. Navy’s new Freedom-class littoral combat ship (LCS) is making a deployment to the Western Pacific and the U.S. Seventh Fleet area of operations. The first of class Freedom (LCS 1), has arrived at Singapore where it will operate to evaluate the LCS capabilities and concept of operations (CONOPS).

Greenert says Freedom will return to San Diego after about a 10-month deployment. “She will be replaced probably by the Fort Worth. After that, we’ll have more than one (LCS) here at any given time. Our conversation with the Singapore government is, up to four. And it will take place through the middle of this decade. By the end of the decade, let’s say early ‘20s, we’ll have up to 11 littoral combat ships in this part of the world, in Singapore and up in Japan, as we replace the mine countermeasure ships. We have four mine countermeasure ships in Sasebo now. We may have more littoral combat ships replacing them, so that would be a growth of ships overall.”

According to Rear Adm. Tom Carney, Southeast Asia is tremendously important to the United States. And the U.S. has been in these waters for decades. He points to the wall of his office at the headquarters of Commander Logistics Force Western Pacific, located at the port facilities at Sembawang, on which a copy of the deck log from USS Vincennes is mounted. Vincennes dropped anchor in Singapore in 1835,  a testament, Carney says, to a U.S. Navy presence in the region for many years.

Freedom Singapore

The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) departs Changi Naval Base for a patrol in the Indo-Asia Pacific region. Freedom is in Singapore as part of a deployment to Southeast Asia. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Toni Burton

“A day doesn’t go by when there isn’t some article in the paper about the economic growth of Southeast Asia and how it’s key to world growth and, certainly, the Western Pacific. And the U.S. has been a part of that and has been a presence out here for a hundred and fifty years,” Carney says.

”One of our tasks is theater security cooperation (TSC) for Southeast Asia and south Asia,” Carney continues. “We do exercises with Bangladesh, and occasionally with the Maldives and Sri Lanka. Having LCS out here on an enduring basis is a great asset to in TSC. We’ve always taken advantage of transiting strike groups that pass through to accomplish a lot of those TSC missions, but having LCS out here in a more enduring role gives us a lot more flexibility to do things throughout the year. I think we’ll see more and more of those types of engagements. Having LCS out here gives us the opportunity to expand theater security cooperation on a different level with a number of different navies.”

 

CNO: LCS Represents a Change in Force Structure

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert says the U.S. Navy is rebalancing to the Asian Pacific region in four key ways. “One, the Freedom represents a change in force structure as we move and migrate to having more ships in the Asian Pacific region. At any given time, we have about 50 ships deployed to the Asian Pacific region, and it’s been that way since the 1990s. By the end of this decade, we’ll have roughly 60 ships. It’s not just in ships; we’ll have a migration of aircraft as we bring the P-8 maritime patrol aircraft squadron to deploy for the first time to the Asian Pacific region at the end of this year. And in a few years, we’ll have our maritime unmanned Global Hawk aircraft capability called Broad Area Maritime Surveillance. The Joint Strike Fighter, when it comes online near the end of this decade, will also deploy in the Asian Pacific for the first time. We are rebalancing our ships. Today we have somewhere on the order of 55 percent of our ships home-based on the west coast. We’ll be at 60 percent by the end of this decade.”

LCS Freedom main gun

The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) fires its Mk. 110 57 mm gun at a pre-staged surface target. Freedom was underway conducting sea trials in preparation for CARAT Malaysia. U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Karolina A. Oseguera

“We are also developing and increasing our partnerships; strengthening our relationships with our allies and our partners, and looking for our new partners where it makes sense, and offering that opportunity as we work through that,” Greenert says. “And lastly, No. 4, we’re benchmarking the development of our capabilities in the Western Pacific and what is needed out here, from electronic warfare to cyber, to anti-submarine warfare to anti-surface warfare, and capabilities for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and our concept of operations, given that a lot of our natural disasters occur in this area with the ‘ring of fire’ and all.”

Greenert says Freedom will return to San Diego after about a 10-month deployment. “She will be replaced probably by the Fort Worth. After that, we’ll have more than one (LCS) here at any given time. Our conversation with the Singapore government is, up to four. And it will take place through the middle of this decade. By the end of the decade, let’s say early ‘20s, we’ll have up to 11 littoral combat ships in this part of the world, in Singapore and up in Japan, as we replace the mine countermeasure ships. We have four mine countermeasure ships in Sasebo now. We may have more littoral combat ships replacing them, so that would be a growth of ships overall.”

Greenert says leadership of other navies in the region are intrigued by LCS. “My counterparts are impressed with the modularity, the space and the volume, the agility and in the way the ship is constructed; you can put a payload in at places here and there. Having a rear door at the stern of the ship and a side door to deploy and redeploy small boats and patrol craft, they find that’s pretty interesting. We brought Freedom out here with a crew of about 50, so just that reduction in crew size is quite interesting and compelling.”

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Capt. Edward H. Lundquist, U.S. Navy (Ret.) is a senior-level communications professional with more than...