Defense Media Network

Interview with Rear Adm. Tom Carney, COMLOG WESTPAC, and Capt. Jim Hruska, COMMSCFE

Logistics is what we’re all about

With the arrival of the littoral combat ship (LCS) in the AOR, it’s a new platform, with a new and different fuel consumption, especially at high speed. Have you had to make adjustments to be able to support LCS?

Carney: We haven’t experienced any unusual rescheduling to support LCS. Like other ships, we had the LCS schedule worked out well in advance of her deployment. We matched that against our logistics ship schedule to ensure that both during the transit and throughout Freedom’s deployment to Southeast Asia, we have the right ships and resources in theater to support it. Again, between our contracts with fuel agents in the region, and the ships that Hruska has at sea, we have not encountered any unusual dynamics to support the ship.

USS Freedom (LCS 1)

USS Freedom (LCS 1) transits the South China Sea during an exercise with other U.S. and Malaysian ships, June 18, 2013. Freedom is in Malaysia participating in Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2013. Additional ships participating in CARAT include the guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) with embarked Destroyer Squadron 7 staff, the dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46) with embarked USMC Landing Force, and the diving and salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50). U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Cassandra Thompson


With IMDEX (the International Maritime Defense Exposition) here in Singapore in May, there were a number of senior-level delegations from navies and coast guards here. I’m sure you had the opportunity to meet with some of your counterparts. What were you hearing about the arrival of LCS? What do the other navies in the region, think about this ship or this type of ship?

Carney: There is a tremendous amount of interest in the ship from regional navies and the general public. LCS had several thousand civilian and military visitors during the week of IMDEX and throughout the weekend with the open house at Changi Naval Base. As you mentioned, it’s the first of its class to deploy, and the first LCS that has been deployed anywhere, let alone Southeast Asia. We’ve known for a long time LCS was coming, and I can say that no country in the region has expressed concerns about the LCS deployment. Instead, they want to see it and see how we operate the ship in the region.


You have operational control of LCS here. How do you view the capability of LCS compared to other U.S. Navy assets that you’ve had before that could operate in this region? What does LCS bring you that you’ve never had before?

Carney: A couple things. LCS matches up very well with other navies in the region. With its shallow water capability, it has the ability to go places that we cannot get some of the larger ships into. That access provides opportunities for exercises and engagements in places that are traditionally out of reach for many of our ships. LCS will be a big part of the CARAT exercise series this summer, as well as some other engagements and port visits in Southeast Asia. The capabilities on LCS match up well with many regional navies that are more likely to operate comparable-sized ships, than nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers or Aegis destroyers and cruisers. Many of the regional navies are also embracing minimum manning techniques and are interested in learning from the LCS manning construct.

USS Freedom (LCS 1)

USS Freedom (LCS 1) Commanding Officer Cmdr. Timothy Wilke, left, and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert, center, give the Chief of Staff of the Japan Maritime Defense Force Adm. Kawano a tour of Freedom‘s bridge, May 15, 2013. Freedom recently arrived in Singapore as part of a deployment to Southeast Asia. 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. Freedom is homeported in San Diego, Calif. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Cassandra Thompson


One of the attributes of LCS is the advantage of high speed. How do you look at the tradeoff between speed versus fuel consumption?

Carney: The penalty you pay is in fuel consumption. But I think for the surface warfare mission package that Freedom deployed with – with the maritime security module – speed is a tremendous asset for that particular warfare area. There are not many other ships in the region the size of LCS that can operate at 40-plus knots.


When LCS was conceived, the idea was you could go fast and deploy your off-board systems away from the ship, and then get away from a danger area. Get in and get out. LCS is probably the first surface ship that we’ve had where its combat capability is largely is off-board systems. Are you going to get a chance to put that to the test out here in this?

USS Freedom (LCS 1)

Engineman 1st Class Robert Carter works on the diesel engine inside the main machinery room aboard the littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1). Freedom was in Singapore as part of an overseas deployment to Southeast Asia. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Karolina A. Oseguera

Carney: This deployment will help us learn more about what the ship can do and what it cannot do, and validate the concepts of operations that have been in development for many, many years now. The deployment of off-board sensors is one of the CONOPS that Freedom will demonstrate in Southeast Asia. Freedom’s surface warfare mission package has two types of off-board sensors, the 11-meter RHIBs and the MH-60R helicopter. We’ll have opportunities to see both employed during visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) and maritime security exercises with regional navies as part of the CARAT series. While we’ve conducted these types of exercises for many years with other platforms, seeing how these sensors operate from an LCS at greater speeds and ranges alongside regional navies will certainly contribute to the CONOPS validation process.


There have been some reports in the media critical of LCS because of some engineering casualties on the transit here — some water gets into something and the ship has to stop. How do you view these engineering casualties that they had coming across?

Carney: In 32 years in the Navy I’ve never made a deployment – and I’ve made many – where there wasn’t some sort of engineering issue to deal with, but Freedom has worked through those and met every milestone of the deployment so far. One of our missions at COMLOG WESTPAC is repair – it’s what we do for a living. But geography does play a key role. It’s one thing to sustain a ship when it’s off the coast of San Diego or Singapore, but when you’re thousands of miles between Guam and Singapore, or Guam and Hawaii, that’s when the test of endurance and reliability really comes. This ship is out there deploying, by itself, without the benefit of a strike group or other ships to send over technicians or parts or test equipment, and they made every milestone and every wicket required of them during the transit from San Diego to Singapore. And we’re looking forward to putting the ship through the paces in the next few months and learning a lot about the capabilities of the ship.

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