The USS Fort Worth (LCS-3), the third of the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ships, has left its port in Singapore for a possible role in the search and recovery of an AirAsia passenger jet that went down in the Java Sea.
The Navy said the Fort Worth departed Singapore Friday morning local time to prepare for possible involvement if the Indonesian government asks for more help.
“The ship and sailors onboard have not yet been tasked to help with the search operation, but are underway as a prudent measure in case they are requested by the Indonesian government,” Lt. Lauren Cole, a spokeswoman for 7th Fleet, said.
If the Fort Worth joins the effort, it would mark one of the first visible missions for the Navy’s new class of ships designed to operate in shallow waters, such as the Java Sea.
The Fort Worth would bring a side scan sonar capability to the mission and is deployed with a MH-60R helicopter and the unmanned MQ-8B Fire Scout helicopter.
The Fort Worth arrived in Singapore on Monday for a previously planned 16-month deployment in part aimed at learning how the ships will operate at sea and to apply newly acquired information to future builds.
The first of the LCSs, the USS Freedom (LCS-1), went on a nine-month deployment to Singapore in 2013.
The Navy plans to permanently station Littoral Combat Ships in Singapore.
AirAsia flight 8501, an Airbus A320 carrying 162 people, crashed in the Java Sea on Sunday while flying to Singapore from Surabaya, Indonesia.
Debris and more than two dozen bodies have reportedly been recovered in poor weather conditions, including some with the help of the USS Samson (DDG-102), an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. The Samson arrived in the Java Sea earlier this week and has been conducting search operations.