The Littoral Combat Ship USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) has begun its journey to Singapore on its first major overseas deployment that will be the longest of any so far for the class of ships designed to fight in coastal areas.
The Fort Worth left its homeport of San Diego on Nov. 18 for the 16-month deployment and will stop in Hawaii and Guam before arriving in Singapore. The Navy said the sailing is part of its strategic shift to the Asia-Pacific region.
The vessel is the second of the Freedom variant of the LCS. Its predecessor was on a 10-month deployment to Singapore last year.
Like the USS Freedom (LCS-1), the Fort Worth is deploying with the surface mission package that consists of two 30mm guns, two 11-meter rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIB) and two 8-member maritime security boarding teams. The surface mission package is one of three swappable mission packages the Navy is developing for the LCS, along with anti-submarine warfare and mine countermeasures.
The Fort Worth will be the first of the class to deploy with the Navy’s manning concept of the vessels that involves three crews that will take over the ship on a four-month rotational basis, allowing for the extended deployment, the Navy said.
While in Asia, the Fort Worth will engage in exercises with regional navies and will also introduce new capabilities planned for the LCS, such as deploying with the manned MH-60R Seahawk helicopter and the unmanned MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
Lockheed Martin [LMT] is the prime contractor for the Freedom LCS variant and the MH-60s, while Northrop Grumman [NOC] builds the Fire Scout.
Austal USA builds the Independence variant of the LCS.