First-of-class Littoral Combat Ships USS Freedom (LCS 1), rear, and USS Independence (LCS 2) during an exercise off the coast of southern California in May 2012. Source: US Navy
- Two LCSs will operate out of Singapore's Changi Naval base in 2016
- USN's deployment of four LCSs by 2018 will include two Independence-class ships
Rear Admiral Charles Williams, Commander of the USN's Logistics Group Western Pacific and Combined Task Force (CTF) 73, described the planned deployment as part of the USN's efforts to operate the navy's most capable platforms in the Asia-Pacific region.
The next LCS to be deployed will relieve USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), a Freedom-variant LCS, which is currently operating out of Singapore's Changi Naval Base on a 16-month tour. Fort Worth 's replacement will then be joined by another LCS in the later part of 2016, marking the start of two simultaneous deployments.
Fort Worth is currently deployed with a surface warfare (SuW) mission package that includes one Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk helicopter, one Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle, and two 11 m rigid-hull inflatable boats. The ship is also armed with two Mk 46 Mod 2 Bushmaster 30 mm guns, a 57 mm cannon, and a Raytheon RIM-116 21-cell rolling airframe missile launcher.
The USN has said that it plans to simultaneously operate four LCSs out of Singapore. "When we have four LCS ships here by 2018, two of them will be the Freedom class while the other two will be the Independence class," Adm Williams told IHS Jane's on the sidelines of the OPVs & Corvettes Asia Pacific Conference in Singapore.
The admiral pointed to the Independence class' large flight deck as a significant capability addition in the USN's Seventh Fleet area of operations. "It is the largest flight deck on any of our ships short of the aircraft carriers and large deck amphibious ships," he said adding that the capability will allow a greater breadth of operations in the region.
IHS Jane's understands that the next LCS to arrive in 2016 will be a Freedom-class ship and that the first Independence-class LCS is expected to arrive in Singapore later that year. However the USN has declined to confirm the exact ships or mission packages that will be deployed.
Besides SuW, LCS vessels can also be configured for mine countermeasures and anti-submarine warfare roles.
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USN confirms 2016 as starting point for deploying two Littoral Combat Ships to Singapore - IHS Jane's 360