The Littoral Combat Ship ( ) USS Freedom is scheduled to arrive in Singapore at 11 a.m. local time April 18 — about midnight U.S. Eastern Standard Time — finishing its trans-Pacific trek to start its inaugural Asian deployment.
The Singapore arrival marks the end of quite an odyssey for the-built Freedom, whose past has been a storm-tossed one, with halted trials, vessel redesigns and doubts raised inside and outside the Navy. The ship endured some relatively minor power outages early on in its trans-Pacific run, but made the final Singapore transit with no more issues, Navy officials say.
During its transit, the highest level of Navy officials — including Secretary Ray Mabus and Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the chief of naval operations — were touting the importance of the Freedom and the LCS class in performing the coastal missions and exercises to make the Pacific Pivot military shift work as planned.
“Freedom has met every milestone of this deployment on time,” says Cmdr. Timothy Wilke, Freedom’s commanding officer. “I’m also looking forward to putting the ship through its paces over the next several months while deployed more than 8,000 miles from homeport.”
The ship is slated to be met on arrival in Singapore by David Adelman, the U.S. ambassador there; Rear Adm. Denny Wetherald, deputy chief of staff for the U.S. Pacific Fleet; Rear Adm. Thomas Carney, commander of Logistics Group West Pacific; and Col. Timothy Lo, fleet commander of the Republic of Singapore Navy.
Lessons learned from logistics and maintenance support during the transit and port visits will inform follow-on rotational deployments as well as the overall LCS program.
Next month, Freedom will participate in the International Maritime Defense Exhibition and Conference (Imdex) in Singapore. In the months following Imdex, Freedom will join regional navies and other 7th Fleet units as a participant in select phases of exercises Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (Carat) and Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (Seacat). Taking place throughout Southeast Asia, both exercises provide Freedom opportunities to train extensively with comparable-sized ships.
“We plan on spending most of our time here in Southeast Asia. This will be Freedom’s neighborhood for the next eight months,” Wilke says. “We are eager to get out and about, work with other regional navies and share best practices during exercises, port visits and maritime security operations.”
While the Freedom gets going on its first Asian deployment, Navy officials say they hope to getCoronado back to sea to continue pre-delivery builder’s trials on April 22.
LCS-4 was being put through full-power trial tests April 13 before engine problems developed on port and starboard diesel engines, creating smoke and a small fire first on the starboard engine and then the port one, Navy sources said. There were no injuries and the ship returned to port to ascertain the cause of the problems. The Navy had initially hoped to resume trials this week.
Such problems are not uncommon during builders’ trials, which are meant to put a vessel through its paces, often pushing the ship to the limits of its required performance.