Defense Media Network

LCS Takes the Point on the “Pacific Pivot”


Freedom and Fort Worth are a pair, so we train on the one ship, we deploy on the other, and then nominally 16 months later those two ships will switch,” Kawas said.

Freedom and Fort Worth are assigned to LCS Squadron 1 in San Diego, where the training takes place. The mission detachments also fall under LCS Squadron 1, so they train at San Diego, too.

“Right now Freedom’s getting her maintenance done as well as supporting training. When this ship finishes deployment, it will go back to San Diego, and get its maintenance done, so that the majority of the maintenance we do on the ship is done back in San Diego,” Kawas said.

The core crew would only deploy on the same type ship. For crew 103, that would be the Freedom variant.

LCS aerial

The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) transits the South China Sea during a 16-month rotational deployment in support of the Indo-Asia-Pacific rebalance. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joe Bishop

“The crews come in ready to go,” Kawas said. “We took the ship up to Northeast Asia within days of getting here, and we didn’t have to stick around and do any local ops to get up to speed.   We were able to do different exercises and engagements throughout the region. We didn’t get back here for about two months. And the future follow-on crews will be able to do the exact same thing.”

“We can take up to three Fire Scouts,” said Hill. “I’ve seen two. But you can get three in there.”

“My turnover with the off-going commanding officer basically consisted of a key inventory,” said Kawas.

Aviation capability

According to the aviation detachment officer in charge, Lt. Cmdr. Ted Hill, the aviation detachment and mission detachment are interchangeable between the two LCS variants.

Fire Scout

Sailors aboard the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) prepare to launch an MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aircraft system from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joe Bishop

“We’ve taken an ASUW mission detachment off USS Freedom on short notice and put them on USS Independence for RIMPAC. Independence had a mine countermeasures package on her – they swapped it out, put an SUW package and an aviation det on her – did RIMPAC, came back, changed it all back out, put the MCM detachment back on it, and now she’s doing MCM testing. So they can go back and forth between the two. You basically have two ships that are meeting the same mission sets and capabilities; they’re just done differently.

The two variants – Freedom and Independence – were designed by two different builders. So as far as the ship systems go, we can’t cross over, because the engines, generators and systems are different, and our techs are experts on these systems,” Kawas said. “But it’s the same concepts for the operation and, in this theater, you will likely see both variants operating in and around the Asia Pacific, and then by the end of the decade.”

Both variants have big flight decks and spacious hangars. The detachment has one MH-60R Seahawk helicopter and one MQ-8B Fire Scout VTUAV “We actually had two Fire Scouts on Freedom for a little while,” said Desmond.

“We can take up to three Fire Scouts,” said Hill. “I’ve seen two. But you can get three in there.”

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