12/17/2014
LCS in Action
2014

USS FreedomAfter returning to San Diego Dec. 23, 2013 following its historic maiden deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations, USS Freedom (LCS 1) started off the year with post-deployment maintenance and upkeep. On Jan. 15, a group of three ensigns assigned to Crew 102 became the first ensigns in the Navy to earn their surface warfare officer (SWO) qualification on board an LCS platform. Sailors aboard Freedom demonstrated the future concept of operations (CONOPS) for manned and unmanned helicopters aboard littoral combat ships during an underway off the coast of San Diego April 25-May 16, in preparation for an initial deployment of the aircraft later this year. Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet and Commander, Carrier Strike Group 15, formerly known as Commander, Strike Force Training Pacific, coordinated the demonstration aboard Freedom with both the manned, multi-mission MH-60R Seahawk and the MQ-8B Fire Scout, a vertical take-off unmanned aerial vehicle, operating together. The demonstration included one MH-60R and one MQ-8B both flown by Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35, Detachment 1, aboard Freedom with a surface warfare (SUW) mission package installed. SUW provides fleet protection from small boats and other asymmetrical threats. The event informed the fleet on the status of the “system of systems” integration for the USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) that began Nov. 17.

USS IndependenceNearly 2,000 San Diego residents and tourists stood in line in order to make their way on board the littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2) while the vessel was moored at the B Street Pier in downtown San Diego, Feb. 12-13. The community outreach event, sponsored by Commander, Naval Surface Force U.S. Pacific Fleet, focused on public tours designed to let visitors see firsthand the unique capabilities of the Navy’s littoral combat ship program. On May 20, Independence successfully completed a test event with the ship’s Mk 110 57 millimeter gun. Held at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, Point Mugu Range, the test demonstrated Independence’s surface warfare capabilities by engaging a stationary target using the ship’s core combat system. As part of the test plan, Independence crew members tracked a surface balloon, also known as a Killer Tomato, with SAFIRE, the ship’s electro-optical/infrared camera, and the Sea Giraffe radar prior to engaging the target with the 57 mm gun. During the summer, Independence operated off the coast of Hawaii as part of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise, from June 26 to Aug. 1. During RIMPAC 2014, the Independence crew conducted gunfire exercises, tactical maneuvering, search and seizure boarding, and multi-ship air defense, anti-submarine and surface warfare exercises. Prior to RIMPAC, Independence was conducting testing and evaluation of the ship’s Mine Countermeasures (MCM) mission module of the coast of San Diego. For their participation in RIMPAC, the ship shifted to its Surface Warfare (SUW) mission module, a change that exhibited one of the primary strengths of LCS.

 

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USS Fort WorthNaval Sea Systems Command and Southwest Regional Maintenance Center (SWRMC) divers completed the first full underwater waterjet seal and evaluation on a littoral combat ship (LCS), USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), Jan. 2. With the procedure complete for Freedom-variant littoral combat ships, NAVSEA’s Supervisor of Salvage and Diving will begin testing a similar process for Independence-variant ships. Sailors from Fort Worth also completed final certifications for the ship’s inaugural deployment while underway participating in Task Group Exercise (TGEX), Oct. 23-31. Fort Worth Crews 103 and 104, along with guided-missile destroyers USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) and USS Milius (DDG 69), used TGEX as their final opportunity to certify prior to deployment. On Nov. 17, the ship and crew departed Naval Base San Diego for a scheduled 16-month rotational deployment to Singapore in support of the Navy’s strategic rebalance to the Pacific. 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. It is named “3-2-1” because three rotational crews will support two LCS ships and maintain one deployed ship. For the first time, Fort Worth also deployed 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 the range and endurance thereby enhancing maritime domain awareness.

USS CoronadoMore than 4,000 guests watched as the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) joined the Navy’s surface fleet during a commissioning ceremony at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, California, April 5. Later in the year, the crew of Coronado successfully performed a live-fire demonstration of a Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (NSM) during missile testing operations off the coast of Southern California, Sept. 23. During the test, the Norwegian-made Kongsberg NSM was launched from the deck of Coronado and scored a direct hit on its intended target; a mobile ship target (MST). Sailors from Coronado also conducted dynamic interface testing with the MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Take-Off and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle 2014 2014 (VTUAV), Oct. 16. The tests familiarized the crew with operating unmanned aircraft, verified and expanded the launch and recovery envelopes, and identified opportunities for envelope expansion, thereby demonstrating the future concept of operations for unmanned helicopters aboard LCS. LCS is expected to routinely deploy with Fire Scout in addition to a manned MH-60 helicopter as part of its surface warfare (SUW), mine countermeasures (MCM), and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) mission packages. The Fire Scout will complement the MH-60 by extending the range and endurance of ship-based intelligence gathering operations. Surface Warfare Magazine

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