USA: LCS Crew 102 Returns to San Diego
Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Crew 102, which had been deployed aboard USS Freedom (LCS 1) since March, is scheduled to return to San Diego Aug. 7 following the ship’s maiden overseas deployment in support of operations with regional navies in the 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility.
Crew 102 turned over the ship to Crew 101 Aug. 6. The crew rotation is a key milestone during Freedom’s overseas deployment to the Asia-Pacific region, and marks the deployment’s midway point.
Crew 102, commanded by Cmdr. Timothy Wilke of Schaumburg, Ill., took part in theater security cooperation missions while embarked in the region.
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 the Philippines. 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 throughout Southeast Asia.
“USS Freedom and this amazing crew have really led the way,” Wilke said. “We have met every event head on and have advanced the knowledge of the ship’s operational capability while operating forward. It’s been an incredible honor to command a ship like this on such an important deployment.”
Wilke is expected to be available for interviews upon arrival.
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. Freedom is the lead ship of the Freedom variant for LCS, and is a semi-planing steel monohull with an aluminum superstructure. The ship can reach speeds in excess of 40 knots.
Freedom, with Crew 101 embarked, is expected to return to her San Diego homeport late 2013.
Press Release, August 7, 2013; Image: Navy