USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) left San Diego today for a 16-month rotational deployment to Singapore in support of the Navy’s strategic rebalance to the Pacific.
Building on the achievements of USS Freedom’s (LCS 1) maiden 10-month deployment to Southeast Asia from March to December 2013; Fort Worth will visit more ports, engage more regional navies during exercises like Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) and expand littoral combat ship (LCS) capabilities, including embarking and utilizing the MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV).
With LCS crew 104 embarked, Fort Worth recently completed its deployment certifications during Task Group Exercise off the coast of Southern California. Many members of the crew have been onboard since the ship’s construction, so this deployment is the culmination of all their preparations.
After departing San Diego, Fort Worth will visit ports in Hawaii and Guam before arriving in its maintenance and logistics hub of Singapore.
As the Navy’s second LCS to embark on an overseas deployment, Fort Worth is the first LCS to deploy under the 3-2-1 manning concept, swapping fully trained crews roughly every four months. This concept will allow Fort Worth to deploy six months longer than Freedom, which swapped crews once in 10 months, extending LCS’ forward presence and reducing crew fatigue for the 16-month deployment. The concept is named for the three rotational crews supporting two LCS ships to maintain one deployed ship.
Like Freedom, Fort Worth will employ the surface warfare mission package for the entire deployment, to include two 30 mm guns, two 11-meter rigid hull inflatable boats and two 8-member maritime security boarding teams.
For the first time, Fort Worth will deploy with an aviation detachment from the “Magicians” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM-35), the Navy’s first composite expeditionary helicopter squadron. The aviation detachment will consist of one MH-60R Seahawk helicopter and one MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned autonomous helicopter. The Fire Scout will complement the MH-60R by extending range and endurance, enhancing overall maritime domain awareness.