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July 30, 2013 / iDriveWarships

Freedom Gets Underway to Support First Overseas Crew Swap

QMC Alvarado, left, assigned to USS Freedom's (LCS 1) "Gold" crew gives incoming "Blue" crew navigation officer LTJG Roberts refresher training on the ship's Voyage Management System.

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Karolina Oseguera

As deployment to Southeast Asia draws to a close for USS Freedom’s (LCS 1) “Gold” crew, an advance team of “Blue” crew Sailors is in Singapore participating in a brief sea trial to prepare for the ship’s first overseas crew swap.

The crew swap is a key milestone marking the midway point of Freedom’s maiden overseas deployment to Southeast Asia. During the underway, Freedom will conduct a series of watchstander exchanges designed to refresh the incoming crew on key littoral combat ship (LCS) operations and procedures, to cover seamanship, navigation, naval gunnery and damage control.

The advance “Blue” crew team arrived July 26, and will be joined by the full “Blue” crew soon for a series of shore-based events.

“This underway will allow the advance team of Crew 101 (“Blue” crew) to become familiar with routine LCS operations in this part of the world,” said “Gold” crew operations officer, Lt. Cmdr. Charles Harris. “We will conduct several evolutions—including flight operations, small boat operations and gun shoots—to support the turnover process.”

The “Gold” crew’s command master chief explained that part of the turnover also includes ensuring the incoming crew’s senior enlisted leadership continues the professional development and morale-building events that have given his crew success over the last four months.

“It is nice to see the finish line,” said Freedom’s Command Master Chief Kenneth Jablecki. “The crew has worked hard these past five months and we’re going to continue to work hard this underway to make sure we turn over a fully functional ship to the “Blue” crew. We need to ensure they achieve mission success not only for Freedom, but for the LCS program as a whole.”

Freedom’s first rotational deployment to Southeast Asia began March 1, when the ship departed San Diego and commenced a Pacific Ocean transit that included port visits in Hawaii, Guam and Manila. Since arriving in Singapore April 18, Freedom has participated in the International Maritime Defence Exhibition (IMDEX), two separate phases of the bilateral naval exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) with Malaysia and Singapore, and hosted thousands of visitors from Southeast Asia. Throughout the deployment, Freedom will remain homeported in San Diego.

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