MANILA, Republic of the Philippines -- The Navy's first littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) arrived in Manila April 9, marking her first port visit in Southeast Asia. While the crew will have time for rest and relaxation, work will continue as Freedom receives fuel and supplies for the next underway period of her eight-month deployment. "Though this port visit is mainly about replenishing Freedom's fuel and supplies, it's also a great opportunity for our crew to visit Manila and strengthen long-standing relationships with our Philippine hosts," said Cmdr. Timothy Wilke, commanding officer, Freedom. "Some of the crew will reconnect with friends and family, but for others, it will be their first visit to this great city."
Freedom's maiden overseas deployment began with a departure from homeport San Diego, March 1. The first-in-class ship has since transited the Pacific Ocean and made port visits in Hawaii and, most recently, in Guam just days after entering the 7th Fleet area of responsibility. Following this visit to Manila, Freedom will arrive next in Singapore later this month.
"Like other port visits in the region, this stop in Manila is a key part of Freedom's mission while deployed to Southeast Asia," said Wilke. "As this deployment progresses, we're looking forward to working with regional navies alongside other 7th Fleet units to conduct maritime security operations, exercises and additional port visits."
Freedom is expected to participate in the upcoming International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (IMDEX) in Singapore and in select phases of the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series in Southeast Asia. In addition to demonstrating Freedom's capabilities, lessons learned from the deployment will allow the Navy to evaluate LCS crew rotation, maintenance plans, and logistics support. Fast, agile, and mission-focused, LCS platforms are designed to employ modular mission packages that can be configured for three separate purposes: surface warfare, mine countermeasures, or anti-submarine warfare. Commanded by Cmdr. Timothy Wilke, Freedom will be initially manned by her "Gold" crew of 91 Sailors to include 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 Freedom's deployment, a crew-swap will be conducted with her "Blue" crew, commanded by Cmdr. Patrick C. Thien.