By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Conor Minto, USS Fort Worth Public Affairs
SEMBAWANG, Singapore (NNS) -- LCS Crew 103 Rough Riders successfully completed the second quarter of the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth's (LCS 3) maiden deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific following a crew swap with LCS Crew 102 Gold Crew May 26.
The turnover is Fort Worth's second crew swap and marks the halfway point of the ship's 16-month rotational deployment to U.S. 7th Fleet.
"Crew 103 and the aviation detachment and mission package Sailors should be proud of the work they've accomplished over the past four months," said Capt. Fred Kacher, commodore, Destroyer Squadron 7. "Simply put, their efforts have expanded the operational potential of LCS in the region, and we're looking forward to building on this success with Crew 102."
Crew 103 was joined on deployment by the "All Stars" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35, Detachment 2, and the "Badgers" of Surface Warfare (SUW) Mission Package, Detachment 1.
Fort Worth hit a number of deployment milestones since departing Singapore in February following the first crew swap. The ship participated in exercise Foal Eagle 2015 with the Republic of Korea Navy, marking the first time an LCS had participated in that exercise, as well as the first time an LCS had operated in Northeast Asia.
Following Foal Eagle, an expeditionary maintenance availability took place in Sasebo, Japan, which proved to be a successful test of the ship's maintenance flexibility that will expand the operational reach of future LCSs deployed to U.S. 7th Fleet.
Upon the ship's return to Southeast Asia, Fort Worth played an integral part in the sixth annual Naval Engagement Activity (NEA) Vietnam, a five-day visit to Vietnam that included an all-hands call by the Secretary of the Navy and concluded with a one-day underway with the Vietnam People's Navy.
Crew 103's final major event was Singapore's International Maritime Defence Exhibition (IMDEX), where Fort Worth operated with a number of regional navies in port and at sea. All of these exercises and events underscore Fort Worth's growing contribution to 7th Fleet.
"My Fort Worth team did an outstanding job of representing the U.S. Navy and the LCS community while engaging partner nations throughout 7th Fleet," said Cmdr. Matt Kawas, LCS Crew 103 commanding officer. "I am extremely proud of the effort the crew, aviation detachment and mission package Sailors have consistently put forth over the past four months. The successes the ship has seen in a short period of time is directly attributable to the strength and quality of my Sailors."
Fort Worth is the first LCS to deploy under the "3-2-1" manning concept, which allows LCS to sustain a 16-month forward presence without fatiguing the crew during the extended deployment. It is named "3-2-1" because three rotational crews support two LCSs and maintain one deployed ship. The concept allows crews to arrive aboard the deployed ship fully trained and qualified to operate the platform underway. Crew swaps take place roughly every four months, with one more swap remaining during Fort Worth's deployment.
Crew 103 will arrive at their homeport of San Diego May 27, where the crew will spend time training on-shore and off the California coast before redeploying to sail USS Detroit (LCS 7) from Marinette, Wisconsin, to its homeport in San Diego.
Crew 102 comes aboard with about 100 Sailors, which includes Sailors from "The Enforcers" of HSM-35, Detachment 3, and "The Horsemen" of SUW Mission Package, Detachment 4.
Throughout the summer and fall, Fort Worth will take part in most of the 2015 Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series. In its 21st year, CARAT is an annual, bilateral exercise series with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the armed forces of nine partner nations including Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Republic of Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
"The LCS Gold Crew is thrilled to be back in 7th Fleet for our first rotation aboard Fort Worth," said Cmdr. Rich Jarrett, commanding officer for LCS Crew 102. "LCS crews 103 and 104 have provided valuable insight for us as we prepare to continue Fort Worth's 16-month deployment in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Our upcoming participation in CARAT exercises with regional navies offers a great opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities of Fort Worth, as well as the proficiency of our crew in a wide range of missions at sea."
Jarrett is an LCS program veteran. He returns to Singapore for a second time after serving as the executive officer of LCS Crew 102 in USS Freedom (LCS 1) during the first-ever LCS deployment in 2013. Additionally, he is a plankowner in Freedom and served as the ship's first operations officer.
Fort Worth is the second LCS to deploy as part of an initiative for up to four rotational deployments of these ships simultaneously to U.S. 7th Fleet in the coming years. 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 six-member maritime security boarding teams.
The U.S. 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of U.S. national interests in the Indo-Asia-Pacific area of operations. As the U.S. Navy's largest numbered fleet, U.S. 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability and prevent conflict.