Navy News Service
SINGAPORE, April 18, 2013 – The Navy's first littoral combat ship USS Freedom arrived here today, highlighting the next phase of the ship’s deployment to Southeast Asia.
Announced at the 2011 Shangri-La Dialogue regional security conference here, Freedom's maiden overseas deployment began with a March 1 departure from its San Diego homeport. The first-in-class ship has since transited the Pacific Ocean, entered the 7th Fleet area of responsibility, and made port visits in Hawaii, Guam and, most recently, in Manila. Additional port visits will occur throughout the deployment.
As with other parts of this deployment, lessons learned from logistics and maintenance support during the transit and port visits will inform follow-on rotational deployments, as well as the overall littoral combat ship program, officials said.
Next month, Freedom will participate in the International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference here. In the following months, Freedom will join regional navies and other 7th Fleet units in select phases of exercises Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training and Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training. Occurring throughout Southeast Asia, both exercises provide Freedom opportunities to train extensively with comparable-sized ships.
"We plan on spending most of our time here in Southeast Asia. This will be Freedom's neighborhood for the next eight months," Wilke said. "We are eager to get out and about, work with other regional navies and share best practices during exercises, port visits and maritime security operations."
Fast, agile, and mission-focused, littoral combat ship platforms are designed to employ modular mission packages that can be configured for three separate purposes: surface warfare, mine countermeasures, or anti-submarine warfare. Freedom will be initially manned by its "Gold" crew of 91 sailors, including mission package personnel and an aviation detachment to operate an embarked MH-60 helicopter.
Freedom will remain homeported in San Diego throughout this rotational deployment to Southeast Asia. Midway through the deployment, the ship’s "Blue" crew, commanded by Navy Cmdr. Patrick C. Thien, will take over.