U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) expects to receive a Littoral Combat Ship in its area of responsibility this fall, the command’s new commander told lawmakers July 9.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s emerging threats and capabilities subcommittee Tuesday, Adm. Craig Faller declined to give the name of the LCS, but said, “The Navy is committed to deploying one in October. … And we look forward to that.”

The future Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship USS Billings (LCS-15) conducting acceptance trials in Lake Michigan. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

Faller, who assumed leadership of the command last November following the retirement of former commander Adm. Kurt Tidd, told subcommittee member Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) that the ship would help fill the command’s need for a Navy combatant platform.

“It’s a capability we need [and] we don’t have it,” he said, noting that while the ship has “had some growing pains, I am confident we are going to come out of those.”

The LCS program has been met with criticism due to cost overruns, schedule delays and government reports suggesting its inability to fulfill certain requirements.

The Navy announced earlier this month that the future USS Indianapolis (LCS-17) Freedom-variant ship recently finished acceptance trials and the future Independence-variant USS Cincinnati (LCS-20) was delivered to the service in late June (Defense Daily, July 1). The Freedom variants are built by Fincantieri Marinette Marine, while the Independence variants are built by Austal USA.

SOUTHCOM is also in need of additional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets, which remain a global challenge, Faller said. The command needs more assets particularly for monitoring the ongoing political leadership crisis in Venezuela, as well as for the “global counter-narcotic fight,” he said.