SINGAPORE -- The Navy's first littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) arrived in Singapore April 18, highlighting the next phase of her deployment to Southeast Asia. "Freedom has met every milestone of this deployment on time and with the professionalism you would expect of U.S. Navy Sailors," said Cmdr. Timothy Wilke, commanding officer, USS Freedom. "I'm proud of Freedom's accomplishments to date, but I'm also looking forward to putting the ship through its paces over the next several months while deployed more than 8,000 miles from homeport."
Announced at the 2011 Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Freedom's maiden overseas deployment began with a departure from homeport San Diego, March 1, 2013. The first-in-class ship has since transited the Pacific Ocean, entered the 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR), 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 LCS program.
Next month, Freedom will participate in the upcoming International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (IMDEX) in Singapore. In the months following IMDEX, Freedom will join regional navies and other 7th Fleet units as a participant in select phases of exercises Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) and Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT). 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," said Wilke. "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, 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. 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.