SINGAPORE -- Vice President Joe Biden visited the littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1), currently on a rotational deployment to Southeast Asia, July 27. The visit to Freedom was part of a six-day trip to India and Singapore in which the Vice President met with military, civilian and business leaders to strengthen partnerships within the region and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to the Asia-Pacific rebalance. The Vice President made a special detour to Changi Naval Base, where Freedom is moored, to visit the Navy's first littoral combat ship and express support for the military men and women currently deployed to the Asia-Pacific region.
After touring the ship, Vice President Biden conducted an all-hands call with Freedom's crew and Sailors from the guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), which was also docked at Changi Naval Base where both ships participated in the recently concluded Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise with the Republic of Singapore Navy.
"I came for two reasons," said the Vice President to the more than 140 Sailors and American embassy staff assembled in Freedom's airborne mission zone. "One to demonstrate that this ship, one of the newest additions to the United States Navy, is an incredible and crucial part of our Navy's capacity. And two, to let the world know how proud we are of you."
"You only make up one percent of the nation's entire population. But you are warranted the gratitude and thanks of 100 percent of our population," the Vice President said.
Throughout the tour, the Vice President stopped several times to shake hands and talk with enlisted Sailors on the bridge, hangar, flight deck and boat ramp. The Vice President also asked the deployed crew to thank their families, many of whom are waiting patiently in San Diego for Freedom's "Gold" crew to return home next month, after they complete a crew swap with the incoming "Blue" crew. "It was an honor to meet the Vice President, and to see his support for the crew of the ship, and our work out here," said Aviation Electrician's Mate 3rd Class Scott Stratton, a husband and father assigned to Freedom's embarked Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 73. "What hit home with me was that he thanked my family for the sacrifice they are making dealing with me being on deployment for six months away from them."
Freedom's commanding officer, Cmdr. Timothy Wilke said it was an honor and a privilege to host the Vice President. He was especially appreciative the Vice President's comments about the sacrifices made by the Sailors and their families to complete a successful deployment. "The Vice President drew a line from the U.S. National Security Strategy and the Asia-Pacific rebalance to how Freedom's presence in Southeast Asia supports regional security, stability and prosperity," said Wilke. "In addition to lauding the crew's hard work on deployment, it was gratifying to hear the Vice President express his appreciation for our families who have taken a toll from not having us around or at home." Days after participation in CARAT Singapore, Freedom's "Gold" crew is getting ready for a crew-swap with the "Blue" crew, which will continue the ship's first rotational deployment to Southeast Asia, which began March 1. Fast, agile, and mission-focused, LCS platforms are designed to operate in near-shore environments and employ modular mission packages that can be configured for three separate purposes: surface warfare, mine countermeasures, or anti-submarine warfare.