SANTA RITA, Guam –
Littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) stopped in Guam to refuel before continuing on to Southeast Asia, Dec. 11.
Fort Worth is on her maiden 16-month rotational deployment in support of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
Building on USS Freedom's (LCS 1) inaugural 10-month deployment from March to December 2013, Fort Worth will expand LCS operations to include visiting more ports, engaging more regional navies during exercises like Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training and expanding LCS capabilities with tools like the MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned autonomous helicopter.
"The Crew 104 Juggernauts have worked very hard over the past nine months to get where we are today," said Cmdr. Kendall Bridgewater, LCS Crew 104 commanding officer. "From our off-hull training plan to prepare to come aboard Fort Worth, to actual operations of the ship during certification exercises, to training with the mission package and integrating the aviation detachment, we've honed our skills and are ready to provide 7th Fleet with capability and flexibility."
Fort Worth is deployed with an embarked aviation detachment from Helicopter Maritime Squadron (HSM) 35, the Navy's first composite expeditionary helicopter squadron. The detachment comprises one MH-60R Seahawk helicopter and one MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned autonomous helicopter, marking the first time both assets have deployed together aboard an LCS. Fire Scout will complement the MH-60R by extending the HSM-35's range and endurance thereby enhancing maritime domain awareness.
Fast, agile and mission-focused, littoral combat ships are designed to operate in near shore environments and employ modular mission packages that can be configured for surface warfare, mine countermeasures or anti-submarine warfare. Fort Worth will employ the surface warfare mission package for her entire deployment, augmenting her 57mm gun and rolling airframe missile launcher with two 3mm guns, two 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boats and two eight-member maritime security boarding teams.
"The LCS brings a unique capability with our shallow draft and fast cruising speeds," said Bridgewater. "We can get to a lot more places than traditional U.S. Navy ships and we can enter more ports that, in the past, U.S. Navy ships haven't been able to enter. We are looking forward to the opportunities that lay ahead to engage with our partners and allies in the theater."
The U.S. 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of U.S. national interests in the Indo-Asia-Pacific area of operations. As the U.S. Navy's largest numbered fleet, 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build maritime partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability and prevent conflict.